“God is situated in everyone's heart. God is not away from us. He is present. He is so friendly that He remains with us in our repeated change of births. He is waiting to see when we shall turn to Him. He is so kind that though we may forget Him, He never forgets us.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krsna, the Reservoir of Pleasure)
The government and other authority figures punish those who have committed wrongs to others. Murder, theft, and vandalism are some of the crimes that are worthy of punishment.
Each and every living entity is born with certain rights. The Declaration of the Independence of the United States of America declares these rights to be life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The implementation of this particular document has been flawed in that these rights seem to only apply to men or people, whereas all living entities, even the animals and aquatics, should also be given these rights since they too are God’s creatures. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, further describe the rights of the people by putting restrictions on the actions of government. The government shall not make any laws abridging the freedom of speech, press, protest, etc.
A right is something which doesn’t impose a burden on others.
“The way our Constitution's framers used the term, a right is something that exists simultaneously among people and imposes no obligation on another. For example, the right to free speech, or freedom to travel, is something we all simultaneously possess. My right to free speech or freedom to travel imposes no obligation upon another except that of non-interference. In other words, my exercising my right to speech or travel requires absolutely nothing from you and in no way diminishes any of your rights.” (Economist Dr. Walter E. Williams, Bogus Rights)
Along the same lines, recently created rights such as the right to free healthcare and free education aren’t rights under the above definition since they incur an obligation on others in the form of higher taxes.
The government’s job is to punish those who violate the rights of others. Murder violates someone’s right to life, so the government has full authority to punish such people. Burglary, or breaking and entering, violates a person’s right to private property, so again the government has a right to punish such criminals. Not only a government, but even an individual has a right to defend themselves. According to the Vedas, a person is allowed to use violence as a form of self defense against aggressors.
“According to Vedic injunctions there are six kinds of aggressors: 1) a poison giver, 2) one who sets fire to the house, 3) one who attacks with deadly weapons, 4) one who plunders riches, 5) one who occupies another's land, and 6) one who kidnaps a wife. Such aggressors are at once to be killed, and no sin is incurred by killing such aggressors.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 1.36 Purport)
God came to earth in human form in Ayodhya during the Treta Yuga. Born as the eldest son of the king, Maharaja Dashratha, the pious prince named Rama was loved and adored by all. A humble man completely devoted to dharma, Rama was next in line for the throne, but due to unfortunate circumstances, He was passed over by the king. As if losing the kingdom wasn’t bad enough, Dashratha also ordered Rama to spend fourteen years in the forest as an exile. Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana was greatly angered by these edicts, and he protested them to Rama’s mother, Kausalya. Lakshmana wanted to know which principle of dharma the king was following in banishing Rama from the kingdom. As stated before, kings and government leaders are justified in punishing those who have violated the rights of others. However, Rama had done no wrong, for He was so kind that He gladly accepted His father’s decision. It was Rama’s right to be the next king, for that was tradition and protocol, so Lakshmana was justified in his anger.
“How can a person dedicated to dharma, without cause, renounce such a son who is like to celestials, simple, well disciplined and affectionate even towards enemies?” (Lakshmana speaking to Kausalya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 21)
Rama was such a great person that He was even loved by His enemies. He never bothered anyone, for He lived very simply and was extremely well-disciplined. Just as being in the military requires strict discipline and adherence to codes of conduct, kshatriyas were also required to be extremely resolute. Kshatriyas are the warrior class of men in the varnashrama dharma system, deputed to provide protection to society and to punish miscreants. Rama was trained in the military arts by the family preceptor Vashishta in His youth, and then later on by Vishvamitra Muni. Born in the famous Ikshvaku dynasty, Lord Rama took His role as prince very seriously. He always abided by the orders of His preceptors and parents.
Lakshmana declared that Rama wasn’t worthy of being renounced. Since Rama is God Himself, we can take Lakshmana’s words to mean that God Himself is not worthy of being forgotten. We live in a very advanced technological age, where wealth and prosperity is demanded by all. The worldwide economy, especially in America, experienced a huge growth spurt in the last thirty plus years. However, it has had a downturn recently and that has left everyone up in arms. Everyone expects opulence and wealth to increase at all times, for they are never satisfied with what they have. The Vedas tell us not to worry so much about these things. There are millions of elephants in Africa and all throughout the world who survive on the food provided by nature. Nature emanates from God, so we can understand that God supplies more than enough for everyone.
Economic development happens on its own, so we should concentrate on more important things, like serving and loving God. He supplies everything to us already, without us needing to ask. Since He is so kind and nice, we shouldn’t forget Him. Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday once a year in the month of November, but God is there for us every single day of the year. Instead of renouncing Him, let us embrace Him by chanting His holy name and glorifying His character. This was the method of worship subscribed to by Lakshmana, and we can do no wrong following in his footsteps.