“You are worried that if You take over the kingdom, King Dasharatha will be bewildered, and thus the kingdom will not be ruled properly due to all the turmoil. And for this, You, who are a great soul, are unwilling to rule the kingdom Yourself? O great warrior, I promise to protect Your kingdom just as a shoreline protects the sea, otherwise I will not be worthy of the supreme destination of heaven set aside for great warriors.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 23.27-28)
In this passage, Lakshmana, Lord Rama’s younger brother, is swearing to protect his brother against any and all enemies. Lord Rama is God Himself, and Lakshmana is a perfect devotee of God. The example set forth here is that devotees should always be ready to defend the Lord from attacks.
One may ask why God, the all powerful creator, would require protection from anyone. In actuality, He doesn’t but He appreciates the sentiment. People sometimes see horrific tragedies and other calamities and think that God is personally taking out His revenge on the sinful. This is not entirely true. The Lord indeed created the material world and everything inside of it, yet He remains a neutral bystander, someone who doesn’t have a personal interest in the day-to-day affairs of man. The idea is that this world is a playground for the jiva souls who come here in the forms of various material bodies. Everything here is governed by karma, the system of fruitive work which accumulates commensurate reactions. Anyone acting on the material platform, i.e. someone working for some personal benefit, is accumulating karma. The results of this fruitive work determine what will happen to them in the future, both in their current life and also in future lives. Everything good and bad that comes to us today doesn’t appear due to our personal endeavors. Rather, our good and bad fortune is allotted to us based on our past karma. As we continue to perform fruitive work, we accumulate more karma.
“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)
Since God is neutral towards all living entities, we are all free to do as we please. We have free will in how we choose to interact with material nature, but we still aren’t responsible for the things that take place in nature. This is an important point that is not very easy to understand.
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 3.27)
Those who aren’t acquainted with Vedic teachings and the laws of karma, falsely believe that this gross material body is the be-all/end-all. “Once you die, everything becomes finished, nullified, nothing.” Based on this mentally concocted theory, these materialists then take the aim of life to be the pursuit of unfettered enjoyment. “Eat, sleep, and drink all you want.” While enjoying may be nice in the short term, if one doesn’t have a proper understanding about God and His energies, he becomes forever doomed. The fact of the matter is that this current life isn’t the only one we’ve ever had. Death is not the end, but rather the beginning of a new life.
“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.27)
Since the material senses can never be fully satisfied, non-devotees jump from one material activity to another. They end up forming their own ideas of the origin of man and how life was created. These theories are all based on mental speculation. By coming up with these various flawed theories, they are completely rejecting the idea of God. For example, the modern day environmental movement seems harmless on the surface. “Protect the environment, burn less fossil fuels, recycle, etc.” These are the various prescriptions proposed by environmentalists for saving the planet and stopping global warming. While their intentions may be noble, the fact is that God created this planet, and He is in charge of destroying it. Human beings haven’t got the slightest idea how the weather system works. They have no power to make the earth warmer or cooler. Yet that is the precisely what the leaders of the modern day environmental movement are saying. They say, “Put us in charge. Let us run the governments of the world, and we will dictate everyone’s behavior. By following our guidelines, we can stop the earth from warming, and thereby save the planet.” These are the same people that told us thirty years ago that the earth was headed for a cooling cycle.
Material science has its limits. Scientists may bring about great material advancements, but they are still unable to explain the phenomenon of life. The original scriptures of the world, the Vedas, explain all these facts in great detail. The Vedas represent perfect knowledge because they have been passed down from authority, starting with God Himself. There is no need to perform any research or go to outer space to find out why we are here and how we can get out of this material world. The answers are all given by God. Yet most in society today still remain ignorant of the teachings of the Vedas. The scientific journals and the nightly television newscasts are what people follow. Therefore everyone is being educated in the flawed logic of the atheists. Devotees of God need to defend the Lord from the attacks that come from these godless theories.
Many thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna, God Himself, appeared on earth as the eldest son of Maharaja Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya. Known by the name of Rama, the Lord was dedicated to dharma, or religiosity, and the welfare of the great saints. Unfortunately, one day Rama was ordered to spend fourteen years in the forest by Dasharatha. The Lord gladly accepted the order, but His younger brother, Lakshmana, didn’t take it too well. The name Rama means “one who gives pleasure to others.” The Lord was loved and adored by all the citizens, as He should have been. He never bothered anyone; He was nice and respectful to all those worthy of it. He never did anything wrong. Knowing these facts, Lakshmana was quite appalled at his father’s behavior. The above referenced statement was part of his plea to Rama to get Him to remain in the kingdom. Lakshmana wanted to install Rama on the throne by force, and fight anyone who stood in their way. He promised to protect Rama the same way that the shore protects the sea from overflowing onto land.
Lakshmana made another interesting point. He declared that if he was unable to protect Rama, he wouldn’t ascend to the heavenly planets. In the Vedic system of varnashrama dharma, the kshatriyas are required to provide protection to society. They are the warrior/administrator class, thus they are required to be brave and courageous and fight any enemy that comes their way. Since they are involved in such a noble profession, they are guaranteed to ascend to heaven should they die in battle. So here Lakshmana is saying that if he doesn’t properly protect Rama, God Himself, that he wouldn’t feel that he deserved to go to heaven.
This shows the proper mindset of a devotee. Most people worship God for some personal benefit. It is only natural after all to go to God in times of trouble or when we are inquisitive about the soul. Pure devotees, however, serve the Lord without any personal motive. They are assured of going back to Krishna’s spiritual planet after death, but they have no desire to do so. They would rather humbly serve the Lord who is so kind and compassionate towards them. Actually, God is compassionate towards everyone, even if we don’t realize it. There is no justification for the attacks thrown at God by the atheists. The lesson here is that we should all follow Lakshmana’s lead by openly vowing to protect the Lord all His enemies. Even many pseudo-religionists, such as the Mayavadis, regularly criticize Lord Krishna and His various activities performed during His times on earth. We may not be great kshatriya warriors like Lakshmana, but in this age, we can protect the Lord by always chanting His glorious names and inducing others to follow suit. We may or may not be successful in our attempts, but that shouldn’t deter us. We should serve the Lord with the same dedication shown by Lakshmana. God will appreciate our sentiment.