Saturday, July 28, 2012

Gauging the Reaction

lord_rama_pg16_l1“Looking at Rama and Lakshmana’s beauty, the people of the city became so happy. From love their hearts are filled with bliss, eyes with tears, and bodies with excitement.” (Janaki Mangala, 55)

rāma-lakhana-chabi dekhi magana bhae purajana |
ura ananda jala locana prema pulaka tana ||

To know that a particular method is having a tangible effect, one must see a difference, either in their personal emotions or in their physical wellbeing. The barometer is based on the specific benefit desired, but irrespective of the specific circumstance the result must manifest for the original system to be considered effective. This principle applies to devotional activities as well, as through the vision of the Supreme Divine Being one should fill up with certain emotions, which are by constitution pleasurable.

Think of the natural reactions that occur in the course of everyday dealings. Say perhaps a new child is born in the family. You’ve never met this person before, as they have only been alive for a few days. Just from a single glance you swell with loving sentiments. Why didn’t you feel this way before? What could one person have inside of them to elicit this type of emotional response from others?

The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, reveal that the essence of identity is filled with a blissful potency. The spirit soul is full of knowledge and bliss and is eternal in its existence. The bliss already exists within everyone, but depending on the circumstance it can get suppressed. Love is meant to be offered to others, and in the form of a small child the living entity can best extract that loving sentiment from others.

The claim that the newborn carries the most potent form for extracting love is validated by the noticeable reaction of parents and other elder family members. Without the noticeable reaction, the claim wouldn’t be valid. Just as when you eat a meal, you know that there was a tangible result when you feel full afterwards, when following the highest path of religiosity the benefit doesn’t have to come in the afterlife. By seeing the real thing, even by hearing it, the individual swells with love, which in turn fills the various body parts with pleasure and excitement.

A long time ago, innocent townspeople got a look at the Supreme Lord and His younger brother seated in thrones in an assembly to determine a marriage arrangement. According to the Vedas, the brothers in question were divine incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Again, any claim can be made by any person. I could say that I am God and you could say that you are God. No one is authorized to make such claims, and thus either person can be refuted rather quickly.

The Vedic texts, which purportedly descend from the Supreme Lord Himself, can be greeted with similar skepticism, but through the reactions that result from following the recommendations, we can see whether or not the works are genuine. If they are for real, the statements about the Supreme Personality and the need for connecting with Him in a mood of love are also valid.

In the assembly in King Janaka’s court, the two princes of the Raghu dynasty were first spectators. The contest was to determine who would marry Janaka’s daughter Sita. Rama was the elder brother and Lakshmana His devoted follower. The two brothers were inseparable, so when Vishvamitra Muni asked to have Rama’s protection in the forest, Lakshmana had to come along as well. No harm there, as Lakshmana is equal to his brother in strength, beauty and overall opulence. The difference between the two is subtle, as Rama is dark-skinned and Lakshmana fair.

The people in Tirahuta looking at the brothers couldn’t believe what they were seeing. “Who are these two youths? Where did they come from? The elder Rama is so beautiful that we can’t take our eyes off of Him. The fair, younger brother is just as beautiful. We have received the fruit of our existence by being blessed with this splendid vision today.” Just from that vision the people wanted Rama to win the contest. He was the elder brother, and since He was not yet married He was eligible to try for Sita’s hand.

There was only one rule to the contest: lift Lord Shiva’s bow. Whichever prince could do this first would win. Seems easy enough, but none of the many princes could even move the bow, let alone lift it. You would think this would ease some of the tension in the onlookers, but it actually made them more nervous. Obviously the bow had an enormous weight. What if Rama couldn’t lift it? Janaka made the vow, so he could not go back on his word now. This meant that if Rama failed, He would be eliminated as a candidate.

The above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala tells us that Rama is God and that Lakshmana is practically equal to Him. Upon first sight at this stranger and His brother, the townspeople became so happy. It was the beauty that caused this reaction. The Supreme Lord is the most beautiful. In His original form He is described as all-attractive; hence He is addressed as Krishna. That all-attractive form gives transcendental pleasure to others; therefore He is also known as Rama. The original personality has many expansions, and Lakshmana is one of them. The living entities are also expansions, but they are separated, sort of like tiny samples of the original.

Shri Rama DarbarThis means that there is an inherent link between God and us. If we see Him, we should have the same reaction that the townspeople had. Their minds were distracted by the event taking place, but that did not stop them from appreciating the beauty of Dasharatha’s beloved sons. The brothers weren’t specifically invited to the contest because they were away from home when the news went out, escorting Vishvamitra in the forest, where he and other sages were being attacked by night-rangers.

The level of selflessness of Rama and Lakshmana was unprecedented. They were young children at the time, so if anything the elders should have been protecting them. They left home not to play or have fun, but to offer protection against the world’s most powerful fighters. They didn’t complain, and they didn’t itch to return home. Rama had Lakshmana with Him, so how could He be unhappy? Wouldn’t you be pleased to have your number one caretaker by your side, especially if they are an expert warrior capable of defeating any enemy?

These qualities made Rama and Lakshmana all the more endearing. If Rama could protect the exalted sage Vishvamitra, He most certainly could protect the goddess of fortune, the beloved daughter of Janaka who had delicate features. She had soft skin, beautiful limbs, and an internal character that was spotless. Sita was the perfect match for Rama, and that the two would be in close proximity at the svayamvara was no coincidence.

When there is love for a newborn upon first sight, that love leads to other reactions and behaviors. When seeing Rama and Lakshmana and feeling happiness over their beauty, love overcame the townspeople as well. From that love their hearts filled with bliss. To feel bliss is the reason for our existence. The long hours you put in at the office and the time you spend taking care of responsibilities are meant for experiencing the highest pleasure, even if you’re not consciously aware of the fact. The living being has a vital force capable of action for a reason. The vitality of the living being is best used for connecting with God, as that activity is the most efficient in terms of realizing the purpose to life.

Not surprisingly, the love in the townspeople caused their eyes to fill with tears. Crying can be cathartic depending on the cause. Tears filling the eyes represents a release of the barriers erected by the living entity who is afraid of getting hurt. From the transcendental love felt from seeing Rama and Lakshmana, the onlookers felt free to cry, to appreciate the vision in front of them.

In addition, their bodies filled with excitement. Seeing God is not the end of activity; it is the beginning of the real life intended for the spirit soul. The endless engagement of devotional service begins with excitement, the anticipation of knowing that bliss will continue to arrive as long as the destined husband for Sita Devi is remembered.

From the reaction of the onlookers in Tirahuta know that Rama is God. Extract the same love from within by regularly chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and following the devotional activities of hearing, remembering, and associating with devotees. That love will then fill your heart with bliss, cause tears to flood your eyes, and make you so excited that you’ll wake up every day anxiously awaiting the next time you get to see in your mind the beautiful Rama seated in Janaka’s kingdom alongside His devoted brother.

In Closing:

When a newborn baby you see,

To show loving emotion you’re free.

 

Naturally occurring is the sentiment,

For seemingly from heaven is infant sent.

 

When seeing God also a natural reaction,

Bliss makes you excited for devotional action.

 

Just like when Lakshmana and Rama seeing,

Best servitor and the Supreme Divine being.

 

Excitement filled the body and the eyes tears,

People of Janakpur toward divine love steered.

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