“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who resides in His own realm, Goloka, with Radha, who resembles His own spiritual figure and who embodies the ecstatic potency [hladini]. Their companions are Her confidantes, who embody extensions of Her bodily form and who are imbued and permeated with ever-blissful spiritual rasa.” (Brahma-samhita, 5.37)
When two lovers meet, the energy they share is tremendous. With their inhibitions removed, two people who are completely in love give off a glaring effulgence. Their relationship is considered electric. Love in the material world has various potencies, but it is most powerful when both parties are completely surrendered unto one another. In the same regard, the purified form of love that exists in the spiritual world between God and His devotee represents the highest form of energy.
Material love is thought of to be the end-goal in life by many of us. Pop culture echoes this sentiment. No matter the genre, most movies tend to have a romantic element to them. A boy and a girl meet, and there is some chemistry and attraction in the initial stages. Inevitably, something gets in the way of their being together. In Bollywood movies, this barrier usually involves some sort of arranged marriage or resistance from the parents. In Western style movies, there are ex-boyfriends and girlfriends that get in the way. In the end, the man and woman eventually unite, beating all the odds. Movies are written in this way because this storyline speaks to most people. Who wouldn’t want to meet the person of their dreams and live happily ever after? Seeing pure love in action is a very heartwarming thing. Many people cry at weddings because they are so touched seeing the pure love exchanged between the bride and groom. True love means completely surrendering yourself to someone else. Material life involves hankering and lamenting over our own personal affairs. Love is nice because it lets us serve someone else, which is something that makes us happy. When two people completely surrender themselves to each other, it is a beautiful thing.
Material love isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but like everything else in the material world, it is temporary. The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, declare that this world is ultimately a place full of miseries. This is true because no matter how happy we may be, our life is destined to end. Everyone has a date of birth, the day they came into this world out of the womb of their mother. What we tend to forget is that we also have a date of death. That date is not known to us, but it is guaranteed to come. So even if we enjoy pure romantic love with our husband or wife, those loving feelings are destined to end.
“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.22)
The Vedas tell us that death merely represents a changing of bodies. The soul never takes birth and never dies. It is eternal, unborn, and untainted. The spirit soul, when associating with material nature, repeatedly appears in new bodies, life after life, in a perpetual cycle. Having a loving relationship with another person certainly is nice, but it doesn’t free us of this cycle. The only path to liberation is through bhakti yoga, or devotional service. Yoga means the union of the soul with God and bhakti means love or devotion. Love is certainly the purpose for our existence, but not of the variety we are familiar with.
The Vedanta-sutras have an aphorism that states that everything in this material world is but a reflection of things that exist in the spiritual world, janmady asya-yatah. “The Absolute Truth must be the source of everything.” What we know as romantic love is actually just a reflection of the purified form of love that exists in the spiritual world. There, however, love is only exchanged between God and His devotees. It is not always of the conjugal variety either. There are many different rasas, or transcendental mellows.
“Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me-and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me. All of them-as they surrender unto Me-I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 4.10-11)
Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and in the spiritual world He assumes various forms. Just as we see that people have different desires, the liberated spirit souls have different desires relating to how they choose to associate with Krishna. Some prefer to serve Him in a reverential manner, others want to be His friend, and there are some who enjoy conjugal love with Him. God is so kind that He rewards the pure devotees in the manner that pleases them most.
Practicing bhakti yoga while in the material world allows us to gradually change our desires from material love to spiritual love. At the time of death, if our consciousness is purified enough, we get liberation from the cycle of birth and death. We then go immediately to Krishna’s spiritual planets and associate with Him. Thus the true meaning of life is to become Krishna, or God, conscious.
Love in the spiritual world represents the most potent form of energy. This is because the spirit souls are actually meant to serve as God’s energy. God is the predominator and we are the predominated. This is the natural order. This isn’t meant to be a bad thing either, for the spirit soul is happiest when it is lovingly engaged in service to the Lord. The spirit souls who come to the material world actually live in defiance of this natural order. Coming to the material world means we try to pretend to be God. However, there is no amount of work or meditation we can perform that will put us on par with Krishna; it simply cannot happen. There is a class of transcendentalists that believe that everyone is God and that they just don’t know it yet. Through renunciation and deep study of Vedanta, anyone can turn into God. This is certainly a bogus philosophy, for if we are God, how did we end up in such a precarious condition? God is the supreme controller, and thus can never be subject to the forces of maya which govern the material world.
God is the energetic and the devotees are His energy. Lord Krishna is considered the original form of God based on the authorized statements of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, and Brahma-samhita. Just as there is an original form of God, there is an original form of His energy, represented by Shrimati Radharani. More than just God’s wife or girlfriend, Radha is the perfection of devotion to God. Though God is one, He takes many expansions depending on time and circumstance. Lord Krishna expands into Lord Vishnu, who then appears on earth in various incarnations such as Rama, Narasimha, Varaha, etc. Radha also expands herself into multitudes of goddesses of fortune.
When Radha and Krishna are together, God and His energy, there is pure spiritual bliss. When the energy and the energetic meet, the resulting potency cannot be compared to anything in this world. Lord Krishna also has other expansions which are similar to Him power, but who serve as His devotees. Lord Balarama, or Baladeva, is one such expansion. He also then takes many forms including Lord Ananta and Nityananda Prabhu.
During the Treta Yuga, the second time period of creation, both Krishna and Balarama appeared on earth in the forms of two handsome and pious princes named Rama and Lakshmana. Born as the sons of the king of Ayodhya, Maharaja Dashratha, the two were the most powerful and skilled kshatriya warriors. As part of His pastimes, Lord Rama roamed the forest for fourteen years with His wife, Sita Devi, and Lakshmana. On one occasion, the group was attacked in the forest of Janasthana by 14,000 Rakshasa demons. At the time, there was one particular Rakshasa who had ascended to power and his name was Ravana. Rakshasas are demons by nature and thus they are enemies of the saintly class of people, the devotees of God. At the behest of Ravana, these 14,000 Rakshasas went to Janasthana to kill Rama and His family members. Rama told Lakshmana to take Sita away and guard her while He dealt with the attack. To the chagrin of Ravana, Rama single-handedly killed all 14,000 Rakshasas, including the leader of their army, Khara.
“Rama's younger brother, Lakshmana, has reddish eyes and a voice that resounds like a kettledrum. His strength matches that of Rama's, and his face shines like a full moon. Just as wind gives aid to a raging fire, Lakshmana has joined forces with his brother. It is that best of kings, Shriman Rama, who has brought down the Rakshasas fighting in Janasthana.” (Akampana speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 31.16-17)
Akampana, a great Rakshasa fighter in his own right, somehow managed to escape the attack and return to Ravana to tell him what happened. After hearing what transpired, Ravana was astonished and demanded Akampana to give him more details. In the above referenced statement, Akampana is describing Lakshmana’s prowess. Essentially he is telling Ravana, “Not only did one person, Rama, kill all 14,000 Rakshasas, but this Rama has a brother who is equal to Him in strength and celerity.“ The comparison made between fire and wind is an appropriate one. If there is a small fire started in a forest, the presence of wind only makes the fire increase in strength. This makes it even harder to put out.
Rama, together with Lakshmana, was absolutely unbeatable in battle. More than just the cooperation between two brothers or two warriors, Rama and Lakshmana together represented the union of God and His energy. Lakshmana was a pure devotee from birth, for he would not even eat meals or sleep without Rama. Only Rama was required to roam the forest for fourteen years, but both Lakshmana and Sita insisted on accompanying Him. Sita Devi was an incarnation of the goddess of fortune, thus she was a personification of God’s hladini-shakti, or pleasure potency. Lakshmana was also a pure devotee and since he was a brother, his mood of devotion was slightly different than Sita’s.
When Rama and Lakshmana are together, the energy they create is quite awesome. To atheists like Akampana and Ravana, this energy is quite scary, for it represents the fire of destruction. Ravana was trying to rule the world, and he thought himself to be stronger than God. Lakshmana is fierce and ruthless when it comes to dealing with Rama’s enemies. By nature, he is kind, compassionate, and sweet, just like Rama. But when it comes to defending God, he holds nothing back.
"O Lakshmana, do you together with Me rule this earth. You are My second self; and this good fortune has taken possession of you as well. Do you, O Sumitra's son, enjoy every desirable thing and the privileges pertaining to royalty. My life and this kingdom I covet for your sake alone." (Lord Rama, VR. Ayodhya Kanda, 4.43-44)
As an expansion of God and a pure devotee in his own right, Lakshmana is an object of worship. His constant devotion and attention to Rama represents real love. On many occasions, Rama openly declared that He performed all His activities for the benefit of Lakshmana and His other brothers. Such pure love is certainly a thing of beauty.