“A person in the divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping, and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all. Because while speaking, evacuating, receiving, opening or closing his eyes, he always knows that only the material senses are engaged with their objects and that he is aloof from them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.8-9)
A good night’s sleep is quite enjoyable. After working hard all day, we like to come home and relax and take our minds away from our daily troubles. When it comes time for us to go to sleep, we look forward to our warm and inviting bed, which is sure to provide us comfort throughout the night.
We value the quality of our beds because we know that if we don’t get a good night’s sleep, we will surely suffer in a multitude of ways. Sleeping on a poor quality mattress can cause one to snore, toss and turn during the night, or wake up in the morning with muscle and joint stiffness. If we don’t sleep well, we will have trouble waking up on time in the morning, which will make us late for school or work. Not sleeping enough causes us to be tired and crabby during the day which, in turn, throws our entire rhythm off. Lack of sleep causes a general increase in stress levels. Over an extended period of time, increased stress can lead to more severe health problems such as high blood pressure.
So it is very important that we get a good night’s sleep on a high quality bed. Everyone has different preferences as to what type of mattress they like. Some prefer plush or soft mattresses, while others enjoy a harder, more firm mattress. Mattress stores stock all different kinds of beds suited for everyone. Modern technology has brought about major advancements in the manufacturing of mattresses. The Sleep Number Bed by Select Comfort is one of the more innovative models to come out in recent times. It has a “sleep number” setting which adjusts the firmness of the mattress electronically. For couples, the bed allows for different firmness settings for each side of the bed. All these advancement show just how seriously people take their sleep and how much they value the quality of their beds.
“When I shall lie down on the bed of green grass in the forest, it shall appear to me more pleasant than one covered with a colored blanket.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 29)
Sita Devi, the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, in the above referenced quote states how sleeping on a bed of grass would be more pleasant to her than sleeping on a normal bed, provided that her husband, Lord Rama, was with her. Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, expanded Himself in human form as Lord Rama many thousands of years ago. Born as the eldest son of the pious king, Maharaja Dashratha of Ayodhya, Lord Rama played the role of the perfect prince who was completely dedicated to dharma, or religiosity. As part of His pastimes, the Lord willingly accepted an order by His father to live in the forest for fourteen years, renouncing all ties to the kingdom. Sita Devi was married to Lord Rama several years prior, and was insistent upon following her husband into the woods. Lord Rama begged her to remain in the kingdom, for He feared forest life would be very difficult for her. Sita was born and raised as a princess, accustomed to all the pomp and pageantry of royal life.
Though she always received the treatment of a princess, Sita was not spoiled by any means. Being God’s wife, she was the perfect yogi, for her mind was always concentrated on serving the lotus feet of the Lord. She vehemently argued with Rama on the occasion of the exile, stating that it was her duty to follow her husband no matter where He went. In order to allay His fears, Sita told Rama that the so-called difficulties of forest life would be most pleasurable to her since He would be by her side. We may try to make adjustments to our material condition by improving the quality of our beds or other such things, but everlasting comfort can only be achieved through service to the Lord. This process is known as bhakti yoga, or devotional service. Bhakti means love, and when you love somebody, your mind becomes completely focused in seeing to it that your loved one is happy at all times. Sita would wholeheartedly enjoy sleeping on the bare ground if it meant that her husband, God Himself, would be pleased by her service.
When we engage our minds in a higher cause and keep it focused, the mundane nuisances of the material world are easily flicked aside. Star athletes, who are able to perform at peak levels even in the most tense situations, describe this focused feeling as “being in the zone.” Completely concentrated on the execution of their task at hand, the pressures that come from winning and losing don’t affect them. In a similar manner, when we engage our minds in serving Krishna, the daily stresses, pressures, and discomforts of life can’t touch us.
Sita Devi suffered through many hardships in her life, but she endured them by always thinking of Rama. The Lord would eventually acquiesce and allow her to come to the forest with Him. While living there, Sita would one day be abducted by the evil Rakshasa demon Ravana, and be forced to remain a prisoner on his island for many months. Ravana repeatedly propositioned her, but she never thought of any man except Rama. Even though Rama was not personally with her, since she was always thinking about Him, the Lord was with her in spirit. It was for this reason that Sita could survive such a dreadful condition.
We should all follow Sita Devi’s lead and take up the process of devotional service. Krishna has His arms wide open and is ready to embrace us; we just need to take the first step. In this age, Lord Chaitanya, Krishna’s golden avatara, has advised us to practice chanting the holy names of God, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare” as the only means of salvation. There is no difference between God and His names. In ordinary life we may say the word “water” as many times as we like, but it does not mean that we will get water. However, if we call Krishna’s name, then He immediately comes to us. God is omnipresent, so He can incarnate in any form. His holy names of Krishna, Rama, Narasimha, etc., carry the same potency as the Lord Himself. By lovingly calling out His name, we develop our attachment for Him and, at the same time, become indifferent to our material affairs. So wherever we may sleep tonight and on whatever type of bed, let us remember the names of Sita and Rama, and we are sure to have a nice rest.