Monday, July 16, 2018

Five Aspects To Assimilating Bhakti Life

[Krishna's lotus feet]“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

Download this episode (right click and save)

It’s not a competition. One team against another. The supporters defending their side, arguing against others they view as opponents. “My religion says this. My religion says that. Your religion is different.”

Genuine spiritual life should go beyond faith. Rather than a hope and a prayer that something is true, put every faculty gifted to the human being to use. In Sanskrit this way of life is known as sanatana-dharma, which has synonymous terms like bhagavata-dharma and bhakti-yoga.

1. Logic

Two plus two equals four. This is logical. The truth comes down first through the descending process of knowledge transfer. That is to say someone teaches it to me. While sitting in the classroom, I can put the principle to memory, ready to invoke when necessary.

[math]Another option is to make a test for it myself. If I take two apples from one table and join them with two more from another table, how many apples do I now have? The answer is always four. No matter how many tests I do, the result is the same. Practical realization, vijnana, supports the theoretical knowledge, jnana.

In bhakti life so many aspects are understood logically, starting with the foundation of the difference between matter and spirit. The individual is spirit soul, covered by gross and subtle material elements. Combined together, those elements form what is known as the deha, or body. The deha is always changing, starting from birth through to the time of death.

This truth is as logical as the two plus two equation. The principle applies to every living thing. The body types may vary, the external appearance is not always the same, there are various capabilities and levels of intelligence, but the basic distinction, the dividing line between proper identity and improper, is always the same.

2. Reason

If I put the furniture together the wrong way, it stands to reason that something will go wrong in the future. The negative consequence may not manifest right away. It might be many years after the fact. A husband sits down on the sofa that I put together the wrong way. The sofa breaks upon contact, and the wife starts yelling at him for either being too heavy or not knowing how to sit properly.

In fact, it was my error that caused the breakage. The cause was a sin, in effect. In the same way, all behavior has some consequence. This is known as karma in Sanskrit. Action and reaction. The results are unseen and indefinite in duration, but there is always an action as the root cause.

“Unseen and indefinite are the good and bad reactions of fruitive work. And without taking action, the desired fruits of such work cannot manifest.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.17)

A reasonable person understands these truths and more presented in bhakti life. Faith is not required. If there is doubt, make a test through studying the behavior of others. If you decide to stay in bed tomorrow, will there be no consequences? If you do good deeds, are there not some rewards? Does bad behavior not catch up to someone eventually?

3. Understanding

Take the principles learned and see how they apply to other people. The two plus two equation works for more than just apples. The changing of the bodies is not only for people of a specific faith. Heaven and hell, two relative conditions that already show themselves to a certain degree on earth, apply to every person. It is not that only people who go to a specific house of worship will get to travel to heaven, and that everyone else is forever condemned, with no chance of redemption.

4. Insightful inquiries

Accept the teachings of bhakti on faith at first. This is how formal knowledge gathering works already. The majority of people watching the weather forecast on television know nothing about meteorology. They trust the information given to them, since many times in the past predictions have been later verified.

“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)

There is no reason to be prohibited by faith, however. Make insightful inquiries. Do so in a humble and submissive way, so that the spiritual teacher will be comfortable sharing information that is so important to them. Bring every doubt to the table. Ask every question that comes to mind, so as to have confidence in the path going forward.

5. Contemplation over the entire picture

Bhakti life is not only about ascending to heaven in the afterlife. Sure, there is the promise of no more rebirth, of no longer having to spin on the wheel of suffering known as reincarnation. There is the promise made by the Supreme Personality of Godhead that those who think of Him at the time of death attain His nature.

“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)

The teachings are so comprehensive that the entire picture becomes clearer. That is to say a student of bhakti-yoga learns about both the material and the spiritual. They know enough about material life to continue on, to use the changing situations to their advantage. They know that in spiritual life the dividing line between body and spirit goes away. There is such a thing as the spiritual body, known as the svarupa.

[Krishna's lotus feet]In the liberated state the devotee can survive anywhere and everywhere. They maintain their connection to God in what is known as yoga. Heaven, hell, earth, pious and impious are no longer of concern, as in the pure state of existence there is only the interest of Shri Krishna on the consciousness.

In Closing:

Faith and belief beyond,

Something to dwell upon.

On which the consciousness to fix,

No more after illusion’s trick.

Logic like math equations testing,

Reason in consequences manifesting.

To the table bringing every doubt,

For eternal bliss to bring about.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Like Going To The Office

[Radha-Krishna]“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Friend1: You ever meet people who are against the idea of going to the temple?

Friend2: Because they don’t believe in God or that within the realm of religion they are not fond of that particular practice?

Friend1: The latter. They believe in God., but others broadcasting that information is like an affront to their sensibilities.

Friend2: You mean if I were to say I visit such and such place of worship every week, you would take offense. “Who are you to think that you are more religious than me?”

Friend1: That’s exactly it. The intention on your side is not to compare. You are engaging in basic conversation. It’s the answer to the question of what you do on the weekends. However, they become defensive and start to make excuses. Sometimes if the argument goes deep enough, they’ll condemn the practice altogether.

Friend2: On what grounds?

Friend1: That it is unnecessary. You can worship in the home. Set up an altar. Offer incense, flowers, fruit and the like.

Friend2: Well, that is certainly authorized. You can take the direct quote from the Bhagavad-gita:

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)

Friend1: Another argument is that God is within everyone. Meditate on the Almighty residing within the heart.

Friend2: Well, another quote from the Bhagavad-gita supports that. Krishna is resting within everyone’s heart. This includes the non-human species. He is the superior director. The individual is really seated on a machine that they think they have full control over.

Friend1: What are you saying here? Visiting the temple is not worth it? These people are correct?

Friend2: No single practice in the bhakti culture is a nonnegotiable requirement. That is why Prahlada Maharaja mentions nine different processes when answering his Daitya father. You can bet there was no temple worship in that kingdom. Prahlada had no place to go. He meditated internally, and yet he didn’t condemn other outlets of devotion. Just hearing is enough. You put enough time and attention into hearing about Hari, the personal side of the Divine, and your life will become perfect.

Friend1: I think I know the answers here, but from hearing this discussion a person might ask what is the purpose of the temple to begin with. If I can achieve perfection through hearing or meditating, why set up some place that is always in need of funds, that might be run by cheaters and thieves, and which today involves socializing and other such distracting behavior?

Friend2: Consciousness is the key. Whatever way to get it to change from material to spiritual.

Friend1: The nature itself or what the focus is on?

Friend2: Mind, intelligence and ego are material. They are subtle elements. Consciousness is what accompanies the individual from body to body. Sometimes that consciousness cannot develop fully, like with the non-human species. It is there to some degree, because that is the definition of living. The nature of the individual doesn’t change, since they are always spiritual, part of the marginal Divine energy. The focus of the consciousness is what determines the nature of living, known as bhava.

“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)

Friend1: The temple is about consciousness, then?

Friend2: Think of it this way. If you want to educate your child, there are options, correct?

Friend1: As in what school to go to.

Friend2: Go beyond that. There are different schools, but homeschooling is an option, also. Why doesn’t every person do that?

Friend1: Oh, there are many reasons. The parents want the kids to socialize. They don’t have the time to spend with the children. They don’t feel up to the task of educating someone else on topics they learned many years before.

[classroom]Friend2: Those are valid reasons. Another is that the environment of school is more conducive to learning. The same education can be achieved while sitting at the kitchen table. It can be accomplished while lying down in bed, even. But when active participation is a requirement, sitting up on a solid chair is a better position, in most cases. Having other students around should help, as well.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: Another example is going to the office for work. In the modern day, so many people telecommute; i.e. they work from home. It’s helpful for a lot of reasons, but there are negatives. It is easier to procrastinate when your bedroom is only feet away. There are more distractions at home. Going to the office might be the only way a person can get any work done.

Friend1: And so the temple is like a place that is more conducive to practicing spiritual life, though ostensibly the same can be accomplished anywhere.

[Radha-Krishna]Friend2: Yes, there are other people interested in the same thing. It’s like going to a club meeting. If you make a habit of it, from just seeing the deity, offering obeisances, and smelling the flowers offered you will make advancement. Throw in chanting the holy names and you are on your way back home, back to Godhead.

In Closing:

Just from routine to pray,

To Godhead on your way.

Benefit from temple deity seeing,

From material consciousness freeing.

Like having an office routine renew,

The distractions limited and few.

Conducive for progress making,

So advantage of temple taking.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Three Ways We Might View Vedic Rules And Regulations

[Krishna's lotus feet]“All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rain. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.14)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Is religion legitimate or just a coping mechanism? Does following actually prevent harm in the future, specifically the unknown afterlife, or is this all just a way to keep people under control? Lying, cheating, stealing - these are bad on their own. You shouldn’t need to consult some ancient book in order to walk the righteous path.

Indeed, Vedic culture brings many rules and regulations. The initial reception may not be a welcoming one, even from people who are familiar with the idea of religion.

1. Strange

No one I know does these kinds of things. Who worries about eating meat? The animals are inferior beings. They are under the control of human beings. You kill them, cook the flesh and then eat. Sure, the slaughterhouses give off this putrid smell. You wouldn’t want to live next to one, as opposed to being next to a farm, but why the fuss? Why put so much thought into it? This is how our ancestors behaved, since before anyone can remember.

2. Odd

Why do things in that particular way? If you want to worship, you go to a house designated for that purpose. I don’t see the need for creating a fire pit in the house and throwing grains into it, repeating some Sanskrit words in the process.

[Goddess Durga]The deities worshiped look out of place, as well. A person with a blue complexion? A guy with an elephant’s head? Some person with poison stuck in their throat? A lady sitting on a tiger, wielding weapons in her many hands? Do you see anyone else worshiping like this?

3. Outdated

Okay, there is some authority to base the practices on, but those people lived in the past. There wasn’t electricity. There were no automobiles. Science had yet to make so many important discoveries. We are in the present day. The word “modern” has meaning. These ancient religious practices were likely used for dealing with things that couldn’t be explained. That is no longer an issue. We know about the sun, the moon, the seasons and so forth. We can predict the weather to a startlingly accurate degree.

While different aspects of Vedic culture may not fit in well with material life as it is constituted today, there is an underlying purpose. There is a reason to avoid the four pillars of sinful life: meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex. There is a benefit to offering sacrifice, yajna.

From the Bhagavad-gita we learn two important truths in relation to eating. One is that grains are produced through rain, which arrives through yajna. The weather is generally attributed to randomness, i.e. the workings of nature. The spiritual science that is the Vedas says that nature operates with intelligence because there is an intelligent engineer in the first place, along with intelligent beings managing subsequent to the creation.

The Gita also says that the living entity is not the doer. We think that we are solely responsible for the results to actions, but that is illusion, maya. Not every repeated action produces the same result, even if all other conditions are controlled. That is why science continues to update its conclusions, as there are new findings that invalidate previously held beliefs. The very meaning of progress implies imperfection. That is to say you can only progress from something that is flawed to begin with.

While appearing entirely based on faith, the actual foundation of Vedic culture is logic, reasoning and science. The idea is to trust the words at first, and then get validation through the application of the principles. Bring every doubt to the table. Ask every legitimate question. Be confident of the path forward. For the doubting soul there is little benefit.

“But ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God consciousness. For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.40)

Yajna is effective. There is a benefit to following pious behavior. The sounds produced by sacred mantras are effective, especially the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Since the objective is bhakti, or devotion, the requirements aren’t as strict. With other mantras an exact, precise pronunciation is required, or else the desired outcome will not manifest.

[Krishna's lotus feet]With bhakti a sincere attempt essentially guarantees success. Through faith in the spiritual master who teaches the principles, more and more is revealed. The truth behind the figures worshiped comes to light. The complexities are many, and while when juxtaposed with other traditions the Vedas seem out of place, the person who continues in the path soon gains an understanding of everything material and spiritual, something no other field of study offers.

In Closing:

Lady on tiger, cloaked figure with rod,

Rules and regulations appearing odd.

Living in modern day man,

Science them explaining can.

Same concepts before a mystery,

Religion now simply for history.

But Vedas with intelligence and purpose so,

More revealed as further into path to go.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Comparing Rama To The Sun

[Sita-Rama]“O monkey, with a brilliant network of arrows the brave Rama, who is like the sun, will dry up the water that is the Rakshasa enemy.” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 37.16)

Download this episode (right click and save)

śara jāla aṃśumān śūraḥ kape rāma divā karaḥ |
śatru rakṣomayam toyam upaśoṣam nayiṣyati ||

The kids were looking forward to playing outside. They had their gear ready. Homework was done. The winter just completed, so now there was no excuse. Every day, if possible, the father would take them out to the fields to kick around a ball or just run from here to there.

The problem is that it rained overnight. There is water everywhere. No way to tread through puddles on the grass. Mud would fly everywhere. Instead of considering the situation hopeless, there is a thought to go later on in the day. The conditions will change.

[puddle on grass]Everyone knows this instinctively, but why?The cause is the influence of the sun. Puddles are on the ground, but they won’t stay there. As soon as the sun comes out the water will dry up. Direct sunlight isn’t even a requirement. With a cloudy sky the process will just take a little longer. The rays of the sun are still coming through; they are just blocked a little more. If you put a shade on a lamp, that doesn’t cause the room to go entirely dark.

If a person is more curious, they can investigate further. Observation and experiment. These are the foundation of science. Not consensus. Not blue ribbon panels. Not forecasts relying entirely on computer models. Real experiments with predictable and repeatable results. In this case there is further study of the sun, its properties, and its influence on other objects of matter. Nevertheless, the result is always the same: the sun will dry up the water.

As that outcome is assured, so is the future of the Rakshasas in Lanka. They are described as shatru, or enemy, by Sita Devi in the above referenced verse from the Ramayana. The Rakshasa spirit is the enemy to goodness, to kind and gentle behavior, to believing in a higher power. The Rakshasas in Lanka were specifically enemies to the priestly class around the world. The man-eating ogres would do just that, kill and then eat human flesh.

Sita’s husband is compared to the sun many times. There is the automatic connection through family. Shri Rama appears in the line of kings that begins with the sun-god, Vivasvan. That family is thus known as the solar dynasty.

Rama is also splendorous like the sun. He will dry up the Rakshasa enemy using a brilliant network of arrows. Sita’s husband did not require guns. The arrows released from His bow were already more powerful than nuclear weapons. This can occur through the science of sound. Words put together in a certain way and repeated under the guidance of authority can give tremendous power to something inanimate like an arrow.

Of course Shri Rama is already the sun and more. He is the origin of the universe, so it would make sense that in the seemingly human form His fighting prowess would not be ordinary. The sun-like Rama would be brave against the enemy. The rays would shine down, and the target would have no way to escape. The puddles on the ground have little protection. The end result is assured. This is simply the way of nature

[Sita-Rama]In a similar manner, the evil that men do eventually comes to an end. The deserved punishment arrives, and it is ghastly in nature. The Rakshasas could try their best to cancel fate, but the conclusion was already built into the real-life script.

In Closing:

Living off torture and hate,

And hope of cancelling fate.

That punishment not to receive,

Only the foolish to believe.

Arrows in a network flying,

Hopeless despite best trying.

Shri Rama, the solar dynasty’s sun,

Like drying puddles of Lanka fun.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Dealing With Bad Guys

[Sita-Rama]“It is not possible for that best of men to be moved by danger. I know well of His energy, like Shachi knows with Indra.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 37.15)

Download this episode (right click and save)

na sa śakyaḥ tulayitum vyasanaiḥ puruṣa ṛṣabhaḥ |
aham tasya anubhāvajñā śakrasya iva pulomajā ||

Indrari. Surari. These are Sanskrit words used to address the bad characters from ancient times. There was a dividing line when the species first came to be. Two sisters were the origin. Diti and Aditi; the good guys sprung from Aditi and the bad from Diti.

The good guys are known as suras. A few English translations for this word are “god” and “demigod.” In scientific terms people of this category live mostly in the mode of goodness. Since they possess goodness at such a high level, the suras can live a long time. Their residence is the heavenly realm, where money can in fact grow on trees, and instantly at that, as soon as requested.

It is interesting to note that the Sanskrit word for the bad guys is a simple negation. Take the word for the good people and put a short “a” sound in front of it. You get asura. The mode of goodness is absent, and so there is a tendency towards bad behavior. While the suras believe in God and work for Him to the best of their ability, the asuras are strongly against the concept of a supreme deity. Rather, the objective is to rise to supremacy at the personal level, to somehow defeat the force known as time, which has yet to lose.

[arati]Surari also refers to the asuras. The bad harass the good. They don’t leave well enough alone. They don’t simply go about their day and try to enjoy the senses. They are against the idea of religion, which includes some sort of sacrifice. From Vedic teachings we learn that such sacrifice, known as yajna, literally and symbolically feeds good behavior. The demigods eat the offerings made in the fire, and the act is purifying at the personal level, helping to increase the mode of goodness within and rid the sense of false ego that otherwise tends to increase with each accomplishment.

Indrari also refers to the asuras, but in a more specific way. These are the enemies of Indra. Indrari implies very powerful people, since Indra is the king of the suras. He is the leading fighter in their army. The enemies of Indra are courageous enough to take him on in battle. As they possess significant power, they are not afraid. But they can only proceed in this pursuit to victory through ignorance. They do not know who is behind the suras, favoring them whenever they fall into trouble.

The above referenced verse from the Ramayana gives an idea. Sita Devi says that her husband Rama is not moved by danger. The asuras are known for creating danger. Sometimes they scare people into avoiding a fight. Just give up and there won’t be any trouble. This happened with the Rakshasa named Ravana, who drove his brother Kuvera out of the island of Lanka.

Rama is not moved because He is the one behind the entire material creation. He empowers every single person. Without His presence not a blade of grass would move. Scientists win awards for discovering laws of nature, but what about the person who created those laws? Discovery is one thing, but the initial creation and engineering are more important.

The suras know the truth, and so they are considered friends to Rama. He is always on their side, though typically neutral to the ups and downs of material life. If anyone were inclined to doubt Sita’s testimony, there is the comparison to Indra. The wife of Indra is known as Shachi. One of her other names is Pulomaja, which means the daughter of Puloma.

[Sita-Rama]Shachi knows well the prowess of her husband, as she has witnessed his great fighting ability on many occasions. Sita is equally familiar with the energy of her husband. She knows that Rama cannot be scared into retreating. Rather, it is the Rakshasas in Lanka who will be moving back. This is the just reward for their crimes. They have carried on for too long thinking that there is no God and that no consequences attach to grossly sinful behavior.

In Closing:

Not until enemy defeating,

From danger never retreating.

With bow and arrow in hand,

In battle courageously to stand.

Sita knowing her husband and doom,

That for Lanka arriving soon.

Since enemies of suras resisting,

Reward for in that path persisting.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Symbolism To The Reality

[Lord Vishnu]“It is said in the Vedic literature that innumerable universes issue forth when Maha-Vishnu exhales in His yoga-nidra, and innumerable universes enter His body when He again inhales. We have to imagine that these universes, which, according to our limited knowledge, are expanded unlimitedly, are so great that the gross ingredients, the five elements of the cosmic manifestation, namely earth, water, fire, air and sky, are not only within the universe, but are covering the universe in seven layers, each layer ten times bigger than the previous one.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 32)

Download this episode (right click and save)

“Give me a specific project to do and I’m okay. Straightforward and matching my skillset. It doesn’t necessarily have to be simple. I’m not asking for the easy road. The only issue I have is with distractions. Different components, where you can’t gather momentum in any direction. I have trouble seeing the big picture from the beginning. Let someone else design and I will help build.”

Indeed, projects can become complicated rather quickly. For instance, how to build a skyscraper? A person may know how to lay down concrete, put up walls, cut glass and so forth, but these are different components to a larger model. A person has to have the vision of the final product and how the different tasks help towards meeting the objective.

Just imagine the complexity to creating the entire universe. Take something like the sun. A giant ball of fire, suspended in air, diffusing heat and light without burning out. No external power source and no sign of letting up. If the idea were to go to different places and collect the necessary energy, that by itself would be a nearly impossible task, with success not guaranteed.

[the sun]The sun is only one piece. Take the different planets and how they are populated. So many kinds of living entities, sustained in different ways. Some moving, some nonmoving. Some living in the water, others on land. Some can fly, while others cannot.

Who could design such complexity? Who would have the strength necessary to do the work? Everything has to be held in place, through the force man has identified as gravity. Then everything has to be maintained. That is to say the work does not end with creation.

From consulting Vedic texts, whose authority is established through the validity of so many principles put into place that meet their stated objective, we learn that everything is generated through a single person. Not a new concept, as other spiritual traditions give similar attribution. The most common name used for addressing this person is God.

The Vedas give more detail. It is indeed a person, but interestingly there isn’t much effort. God in this feature has four arms and is beautifully adorned. He is not angry at anyone. Rather, He is always kindly disposed towards those who prefer His association. The ones who ignore Him are left to the ways of karma, which is fruitive activity. That karma is a component of the material creation.

That creation is due to Vishnu, but there isn’t much effort expended. Vishnu simply lies down to rest, and through breathing everything manifests and dissolves. By exhaling there are so many universes generated.

The reality is also highly symbolic. The most difficult work the mind can comprehend is accomplished effortlessly by the Supreme Lord. He is not agitated in the least. The fact is confirmed through so many other pastimes. When Bhrigu Muni kicks Vishnu’s chest as a test of supremacy, the Supreme Lord does not get angry at all. Instead, He is concerned that Bhrigu might have hurt his foot. Vishnu’s avatara of Shri Rama easily defeats fourteen thousand of the most powerful fighters all by Himself. As Shri Krishna, the Supreme Lord lifts a massive hill and holds it on His pinky finger for seven days to act as an umbrella.

[Lord Vishnu]The one who effortlessly creates, maintains and destroys can also just as easily rescue the conditioned soul from the cycle of birth and death. The starting point is desire. Then a little effort is required. If the sentiment is genuine, if there is some attempt made, then the Supreme Lord takes it from there. This is why the chanting of the holy names is so powerful: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Okay with task simple and clear,

But the complex ones to fear.

To juggle this thing and that,

Never keeping focus exact.

How then the universe came to be?

One intelligent designer to foresee.

From Vedas truth of Vishnu lying,

Creating while barely trying.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

With One Hand Tied Behind His Back

[Shri Rama's arrow]“He killed fourteen thousand Rakshasas in the forest of Janasthana without the help of His brother. What enemy would not become agitated by this?” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 37.14)

caturdaśa sahasrāṇi rākṣasānām jaghāna yaḥ |
jana sthāne vinā bhrātrā śatruḥ kaḥ tasya na udvijet ||

Download this episode (right click and save)

This was the reason Ravana resorted to trickery. Sure, he was previously proud of his fighting prowess. He would boast about it after the fact, as well. In between? Not so much. Better to satisfy the senses, in any way possible. You can do damage control later on.

Politicians are known to employ what is called “spin.” They get caught on camera saying something unflattering. They turn against the party and vote for something they promised during the campaign they were against. They did not express themselves properly in an interview, and now everyone is making fun of them. The mistake has gone “viral,” so to speak.

Hire a few consultants to spin the bad news into positive news. Try different fallacies of logic. Remind people of past politicians who made similar mistakes. Attack the people doing the attacking. Go after character. Change the subject. Deny that anything wrong was done. Say that the bill supported will indeed push forward the agenda promised, when in reality it won’t. Make a promise that in the future something will be done to correct the mistake. Try to present black as white if you have to.

[political spin]Ravana wasn’t so worried about reputation at that point. He took Sita away in secret. He already had so many beautiful queens living in Lanka, won fairly in battle against rival kings. He could have tried to win Sita in the same way, but was warned against it.

Ravana had sent fourteen thousand of his own men to go up against Rama. This was in the forest of Dandaka. Not four against one. Not four hundred against one. Not even four thousand against a single person. Fourteen thousand capable fighters, who were expert at black magic, appearing and disappearing at will - these were the people up against Sita’s husband.

[Shri Rama's arrow]The avatara of Vishnu appeared to be an ordinary man, but He wasn’t. Though the younger brother Lakshmana was with Him, Rama went solo. He accepted the challenge Himself, as He was not afraid. Lakshmana took Sita to a nearby cave to wait until the battle was over.

Ravana’s men were routed, and so the king was warned to not attack Rama by himself. He used trickery to steal Sita, and then later he tried to boast of his strength and prowess to win her over. She wasn’t as foolish as the other people in Lanka. Sita remembered that Ravana acted like a jackal when taking her. She compared him to a dog and Rama to a lion.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Sita asks Hanuman a rhetorical question. Knowing of Rama’s amazing victory in Janasthana, what enemy would not be afraid? Wouldn’t they be agitated from hearing the news? How would they even dream of victory when up against the Supreme Lord and the arrows released from His bow?

Those arrows come in different shapes and sizes. The same potency is there in the holy name, which is the incarnation for the present time period noted for its dark and inauspicious conditions. Four million attackers would have been no match against Rama, and so Sita was confident in her eventual rescue.

In the same way, devotees are confident that through chanting mantras containing the holy name they will be saved from repeated birth and death. Time stands down against that formidable force. The miseries of life begin to operate at His direction instead of through karma. Therefore the wise make the decision to always chant those names and await the eventual reunion with the all-attractive Supreme Lord, who is the greatest protector: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Previously of fighting prowess touted,

But fourteen-thousand of his men routed.

When to Janasthana’s field to go,

Against single man’s arrow show.

Her husband, wedded to Sita so,

Away in defeat Ravana’s army to go.

History soon again to repeat,

Sinful ruler consequences to reap.