Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Good Deed

Rama and Lakshmana“I know that the king, the lord of the people, has done a very good thing, for his vow has brought the pleasing vision, the fruit of the eyes, to everyone here.” (Janaki Mangala, 67)

hamareṃ jāna janesa bahuta bhala kīnheu |
pana misa locana lāhu sabanhiṃ kaham̐ dīnheu ||

Something previously thought to be unwise turns out to be a blessing when there is a benefit received. “If such and such had never happened, then I never would have met such and such person.” Fill in the blanks with many such occurrences and outcomes to create variations of the same sentiment, but the general idea is pretty easy to understand. What you thought was harmful to you ended up to be in your favor, so the initial act itself was not bad. When that final outcome is the best one possible, then all past mistakes and experiences that were thought to be unpleasant turn out to be great blessings.

The ultimate benefit is to receive the fruit of your existence. A fruit is the result of work, the manifestation of the reward intended for a specific task. For instance, a plant is considered pious if it bears fruits. Strange to think, but in the Vedic tradition the trees that don’t produce any fruits are considered sinful. This is because they serve no higher purpose. Perhaps they provide shade and oxygen to the world, but in general these trees don’t make good use of their existence.

An existence is marked by the presence of spirit, which is a vibrant force that cannot be killed. You can’t remove spirit, take away its existence, make it wet, cut it up, or change any of its properties. However, the spirit soul can travel into different forms, which in turn can limit the exercise of ability. This is only true of individual fragments of spirit, not of the original storehouse.

How can there be a difference between the two? If I have a clay pot and suddenly it breaks into thousands of pieces, is not the pot’s existence removed? Don’t I need to merge all the pieces together to get the whole again? Such laws exist in the material world, as the drop of ocean water is a sample of the entire ocean. At the same time, you take enough drops away and you no longer have an ocean.

With the storehouse of spiritual energy, every expansion does nothing to diminish its original size. In fact, that size is infinite, so there is no way to measure its aura. Since the fragments come from it, they are part of its definition, but they are still separate. Hence the true relationship between the individual fragments and the whole is described as achintya-bhedabheda-tattva, or the truth that there is a simultaneous oneness and difference between the spirit souls and the origin of spirit, a oneness that is inconceivable to the mind.

The fragments inherit the properties of the original, but to a smaller degree. There is also the defect in that the natural properties of blissfulness, eternality and full knowledge can be masked by the form accepted, sort of like how a shade can dampen the light emitted by a burning bulb. Nevertheless, the properties of the spiritual spark indicate a penchant towards activity, with an ultimate desire for happiness. To receive the fruit of one’s existence is to taste transcendental sweetness through abilities given by nature.

Just as the tree that produces fruits shows that its ability to exist can create something that is enjoyable, the human being who is given eyes with which to see can produce transcendental sweetness internally by looking upon something out of this world. This is what occurred in a kingdom a long time ago, and some of the residents were keen to pick up on what was going on. There were differing opinions on the situation because of the nature of the day. A king’s daughter was to be given away in marriage, but there was one particular person attending the event that everyone was focused on. They wanted Him to marry the precious daughter Sita, but due to the king’s vow the desired result wasn’t guaranteed.

Lord RamaThe contest ultimately rested on the word of the king. Janaka said he would give Sita away to whoever could lift an amazingly heavy bow, one that took hundreds of men just to carry into the sacrificial arena. The problem was that King Dasharatha’s son Rama entered the assembly accompanied by His younger brother Lakshmana and spiritual guide Vishvamitra. The brothers were identical in appearance except for bodily complexion. Rama was dark, while Lakshmana was fair, but both were extraordinarily beautiful. In youthful forms, they captured the attention of the pure-hearted citizens who had gathered to witness history.

As is understandable in a large gathering, there were murmurs in the crowd. Some people started to curse the king for having made the contest. What if Rama couldn’t lift the bow? Then it would be Janaka’s fault for preventing the marriage everyone wanted to see. If Janaka hadn’t remained so truthful to his promise all his life, the contest could be called off and Rama could marry Sita. Even Janaka wanted this, showing how beautiful Rama was. The young prince of Ayodhya had every good quality imaginable, including chivalry and the ability to protect the saintly class from the vilest creatures of the world.

In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, we get a different opinion from some of the people in the crowd. This group says that King Janaka has done a very wonderful thing, for his contest created the condition that brought Rama and Lakshmana there. In reality, the boys were just following the direction of the forest-dwelling spiritual master, Vishvamitra, but if there wasn’t something major going down, the sage would not have brought the boys to Janakpur that day.

The sight of the two brothers was so pleasing that it was like receiving the fruit of the eyes, tasting transcendental nectar in the form of a wonderful vision. Whoever was responsible for creating the situation deserved credit, whether they did it intentionally or not. Since it was Janaka’s vow that allowed so many people to be gathered in one place and receive the fruit of their existence, the king could be thought of as a saintly character who spread the message of divine love inadvertently. There are many ways to find that transcendental connection, with one of the easiest being sight. Since there were so many people there, the reason for living got to show off His transcendental features to many people at one time.

In the same vein, if we should taste the fruit of our existence one day, we should know that whatever conditions that led to that auspicious end turned out to be beneficial. This means that the many days spent in misery and turmoil can be turned into a positive if they bring us to the lotus feet of a devotee of the same Shri Rama, who is the Supreme Lord in His manifestation as a warrior prince. We also know from the Vedas that the spirit soul travels through many bodies in what is known as reincarnation. This process continues for as long as the fruit of existence isn’t tasted, so by having the divine connection we can also make the many previous births worth it. Going forward, in whatever womb we accept, in whatever land we call home, the divine connection remains.

The fortunate residents of Janakpur and the gathered attendees got to keep the divine vision of Rama in their minds by staring at Him. The happiness would increase further when Rama would lift and break the bow in question and win Sita’s hand in marriage. To relive that wonderful experience in the mind, the wise souls regularly chant the names of Sita’s husband found in the sacred maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. The tongue, the eyes and the ears are all put to good use with this chanting, and the mind stays positively situated by tasting the fruit of existence in the form of God’s vision.

In Closing:

In past lived through so much pain,

Where did it lead, where was the gain?

 

A pious plant when watered at root,

Will yield many a sweet-tasting fruit.

 

Past actions were bad you may have thought,

But good when to Supreme Lord they brought.

 

Uncertain future to come from Janaka’s vow,

But fortunate residents looking at God now.

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