Monday, July 2, 2012

Intelligent Worship

Shri Hanuman“Thinking thus, the great-soul Hanuman, waiting for the wife of the king of men, hiding himself in many flowers and dense leaves on that tree, strictly observed and looked at everything.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.52)

evam tu matvā hanumān mahātmā |
pratīkṣamāṇo manuja indra patnīm ||
avekṣamāṇaḥ ca dadarśa sarvam |
supuṣpite parṇa ghane nilīnaḥ ||

Boy reaches an age of maturity where he starts to notice members of the opposite sex. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. As his new object of worship, he offers her so many compliments throughout the day, just hoping that she will give some indication of receipt, that perchance she loves him just as much as he loves her. Boy marries girl and hopes to live happily ever after. Husband and wife live together, have children, and hope to continue their love in this way. The object of worship for both parties in this scenario is another person, who is known to be flawed. Think of the troubles you go through every day. Are you perfect? Are you not prone to mistakes? Do you not worry over the future? If these flaws exist in you, why should they be absent in your object of worship? Ah, but there is a living entity who is free of defects, and since their qualities are splendid, those who make such a figure their primary object of worship never run out of love to offer. Moreover, their offering of love can never be stopped; there is no interruption. Because of these wonderful features that exist in this discipline of service, whoever should take this up should be considered very wise.

In the above mentioned hypothetical scenario with boy and girl, the relationship can turn sour at any point. Since the boy is flawed, naturally the girl will be as well. She will not always be receptive to his advances or his kind words. She may even sternly rebuke him in instances. This happens all the time in relationships, and there have been several such famous incidents in relation to saintly characters. They loved their wives so much that they abandoned their stated dedicated worship in favor of remaining attached. The wives in these instances were so “cruel” that they didn’t just insult their husbands for their attachment. They went one step further by stating that the same attachment should have been directed towards their previously stated object of worship if they were to ever make anything of their lives.

The women are not to blame in these scenarios, and neither are the men when the roles are reversed. The spirit soul craves the ability to love. Be it a significant other, a child, a pet, or even a community, the individual is happiest when offering service. If the object of service is a staple in the equation, it would make sense then that the higher its value the more pleasure the person offering the service would receive. But how can we assign values to other living entities? How can we say that one person is better than another?

Ah, but if we don’t make this assessment, we’ll base our service off of the reception we receive, or worse, our personal level of attraction. For instance, if we see two women and only one of them is beautiful to us, we are in essence making a distinction. As they are both living entities, they are equally as worthy of service from other living entities, but in this instance our senses dictate our choice in worship. But we know that the sense demands are based off of external vision, which is guaranteed to change. Whatever external features attract us today will very soon be gone or at least diminished in their opulence.

If we qualify our service based on the reception we receive, the love aspect is checked. Take the example of a parent. If a parent only loves their children who are obedient, how could anyone ever be a loving parent? A child is meant to act out after all, and so the parent must be there to provide a firm, guiding, and yet loving hand. In the absence of that love, the child would not grow up properly. If the reception were the only factor in determining the offering of affection, the love would be squashed immediately.

So it looks like we already make distinctions with potential objects of service, and so who is to say which judgments are better or worse? It is the qualities of the object of service which matter, and the level to which they possess them. The attractiveness of the woman is what extracts the loving service from the man, and it is the biological and familial relationship which brings forth the love from the parents. Know, however, that there are living entities who possess the greatest attractiveness and who are intimately tied to every single living entity. They thus serve as the ideal objects of worship, and provide a corresponding level of happiness unseen anywhere else.

Lord KrishnaBecause He is the most attractive, the Supreme Lord is known as Krishna. Not to be confused with a sectarian figure of importance only to the Hindus, Krishna is God for real. He possesses all beauty, all wealth, all strength, all knowledge, all renunciation and all fame simultaneously. He is also intimately tied to the living entities based on His original position. He is the origin of matter and spirit, and we are fragments of spirit currently encased in matter. Therefore Krishna is automatically our superior father, someone who never separates from us. There is only separation in terms of consciousness, which is driven by our personal choice.

“The yogi who knows that I and the Supersoul within all creatures are one worships Me and remains always in Me in all circumstances.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.31)

If He never breaks from us, it means that the connection to Krishna can be revived at any second. To show how that is done, we can look to the example of worshipable figures like Shri Hanuman. He worships God in His incarnation of Lord Rama. The Supreme Lord is the full energetic, and He has a corresponding energy, of which we are a part. The ideal use of that energy is to engage in loving service to God, so the most qualified fragments of the spiritual energy are Krishna’s eternal consorts. Krishna is always with Shrimati Radharani, and the incarnation of Rama is always with Sita Devi.

Sita and Rama are ideal objects of worship because their divine qualities never exhaust or change. The couple is so attractive and so kind that the mind can contemplate on their features day after day and still not reach an end. The eligibility for service is not limited to the mind. All of the body parts assumed at the time of birth can be engaged in that service. Even infiltrating an enemy land and surveying a beautiful park while perched on a tree branch is a way to offer that service, as was the case with Hanuman.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Hanuman is concluding a period of thinking about Sita. He reviewed her features in order to predict where she might be. At the time, she was separated from Rama’s company, as the divine pair were playing their roles in the real-life drama known as the Ramayana. The ogre-king of Lanka, Ravana, had taken Sita away through a backhanded plot and tried to win her over. She refused him, and so he left her in an Ashoka grove situated next to the head palace.

Shri HanumanHanuman was now in this grove, but he didn’t know Sita’s location. He was sent to find her by Rama, but Hanuman had little information to go by. He heard that she was in Lanka, but he hadn’t seen her yet, and he wasn’t sure if she was still alive. In reviewing her qualities, which were known to him through hearing stories about her, Hanuman predicted that she would be in this pristine park of lovely trees and flowers.

He hid himself amidst so many flowers and leaves on this specific tree. From his perch he could see everything, so he just sat there and waited, moving his eyes about the entire park to see if he could spot Sita. There was frustration in this mission and also fear. The burden was great on Hanuman, as he couldn’t live with himself if he failed. But he was also on a mission of love, so there was no chance of ever giving up or running low on affectionate feelings. If, ever, he hit a low spot, he could just remember Sita and Rama’s qualities. Rama was the king of men, the best bow warrior in the world. He had a kind disposition, and He was always on the side of good. Sita was His beloved wife, so naturally she had every virtuous quality as well.

The intelligent Hanuman picks a perfect object of worship in the divine couple of Sita and Rama. His love for them would lead him to Sita’s location, and afterwards he would return to Lanka with Rama and the band of Vanaras from the Kishkindha forest. Even after Sita and Rama returned to the spiritual world, Hanuman continued his love for them, always chanting their glories and reliving their exploits so kindly presented in the Ramayana. Therefore we know that worship of God never has to cease, and since the service never stops, so too the corresponding happiness continues to arrive.

In Closing:

Of energy in service you are a storehouse,

Endless amount of love you can let out.

 

Matter is in where that energy to direct,

Choose entity in whom attractiveness you detect.

 

They should have qualities that are limitless,

So that opportunities for contemplation boundless.

 

See example of whom Hanuman does choose,

Sita and Rama, never devotion they refuse.

 

Can think of their qualities at any time,

Helped Hanuman in Lanka Sita to find.

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