“Indeed, the mighty-armed Rama has done a most impossible task in being able to live for even a moment being separated from this intoxicating lady, Sita.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 15.53)
duṣkaram kurute rāmo imām matta kāśinīm |
sītām vinā mahā bāhuḥ muhūrtam api jīvati ||
A man who has loved and then lost will tell you that there is no pain greater in life than that loss. The source of the misery relates to both the lost association and the debilitating blow to the ego. In an era where men and women freely comingle and thus enter into relationships based on mutual attraction, to lose the association of a woman means that she no longer desires your company. Or worse, she may never have desired it to begin with. Seeing her every day, sharing laughter, trading stories, and having general good fun together doesn’t automatically mean that she will want to enter into an intimate relationship.
If a relationship is formed and then broken later on, the rejected person can’t help but wonder what they could have done to prevent the situation. “What did I do wrong? Was I too nice? Was I not nice enough? Did I say something that was inappropriate? Does she long for another man’s company? Is that person better than me? How can I get her back? How do I prevent this from happening in the future?”
The intensity of the pain is linearly related to the gloriousness of the woman in question. This means that the better she is in qualities, the more the separation from her will hurt. This should only make sense. The greatest loss occurs when something of high value is no longer available. The man who is poor his whole life doesn’t feel the same pain that a wealthy man turned poor does. The former never knows what it’s like to have a lot of money, to spend extravagantly, and to get whatever material possession they desire at a moment’s notice. The wealthy man has these experiences, and so when he loses his wealth he feels as if he has lost something great.
A similar comparison was once made by Sita Devi, who ironically is the spark for the present discussion. She is the goddess of fortune, the wife of the Supreme Lord. Since God is married to Sita, He is known as Madhava, or the husband of the goddess of fortune. He is thus the most fortunate person in the world. Sita comes to earth to take part in the pastimes of her dear husband when the time and place are appropriate.
When she appears, she does not come out of the womb of a mother. Instead, she is found in the ground by the pious king named Janaka. The Treta Yuga, or second time period of creation, is when Sita appeared last. When Janaka found her, he felt tremendous affection, taking the girl in as his daughter and naming her Sita because of her relation to the earth.
“After seeing that I had reached an age suitable for giving me away to a proper husband in marriage, my father became overcome with fear and anxiety, like a man who was about to become poor.” (Sita Devi speaking to Anasuya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.34)
We know of Janaka’s feelings based on Sita’s own testimony given once to the female sage Anasuya. She was interested in hearing the details of Sita’s marriage arrangement from Sita herself. The goddess of fortune described that when she reached an age appropriate for marriage, Janaka was hesitant to give her away, feeling like a man who was about to become poor.
The only suitable husband for her, of course, is God, who had appeared on earth at the time as the prince of the Raghu dynasty, Lord Rama. After marrying Sita and living together for a while, Rama would have to be separated from her. In the search for her whereabouts, Rama befriended a Vanara-minister named Hanuman. That same emissary would then have to travel by himself all the way to the enemy territory of Lanka to look for Sita.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Hanuman has just spotted a princess from a distance. Based on her features, he has concluded that she is Sita. Now that he knows that this person is Rama’s wife, Hanuman starts to marvel at how Rama has been able to survive. Sita’s qualities were so wonderful that any man who was married to her surely couldn’t survive separation, even for a moment.
Hanuman pays both Sita and Rama the highest compliment. In Sita’s case, she is described to be the most beautiful person in the world from someone with a spotless character. How many of us have braved the elements and travelled thousands of miles away from home just to help someone we only knew for a brief period of time? Volunteer military men and women do this kind of thing for their country and they are rightfully appreciated for their sacrifice. But Hanuman had to go it alone in the end, and he was in a place where he was not welcome. The evil king of Lanka, Ravana, had taken Sita away through a backhanded plot, so he didn’t want anyone to find her. Ravana was enamored by Sita’s beauty, but she would never give in to him.
Hanuman risked his life to please Rama, so his character cannot be surpassed by any person. And just see who the person of the highest character devotes his life to. Just see what his opinion of Sita and Rama is. And just see how immediately upon seeing Sita he can understand how in control of His senses Rama is. Rama is described as mighty-armed, which means that He is very strong. As a capable warrior, He could win over any woman in the world, but Sita is the only wife He desires. And as beautiful as she is, Rama lives without her physical presence from time to time.
Any other person would have had great difficulty continuing to live on. Surely one can keep their spirits high if they have never been married or never felt the association of a beautiful person. But as Sita is considered the ideal woman, separation from her is considered a debilitating loss. Hanuman previously noted that Rama survives in separation by keeping her in His mind, and Sita does the same thing.
“Tulsi emphatically says, ‘O mind, hear what I am saying and always take it to heart, for this will benefit you. Remembering Shri Rama’s holy name is the greatest profit, and forgetting Him is the worst loss.’” (Dohavali, 21)
For the individual spirit soul trapped in a cycle of reincarnation, the path to spiritual freedom is the holy name of the Lord. There are many holy names, but Krishna and Rama are considered the best, and they are nicely sequenced together in the maha-mantra: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Remembrance of these names is the greatest profit, and so conversely forgetfulness of them is the greatest loss. Separation from the personal association of the Supreme Lord and His eternal consort is quite painful, but to stay alive one simply requires remembrance, and regular hearing is a way to practice remembering. And remembering Sita, Rama and Hanuman is a great way to go, as their wonderful qualities bring an intoxicating sweetness for the mind to treasure.
Stinging is the pain,
When separated you remain.
To lose something you had hurts more,
Than to have never had it before.
Rama lived, but how was it possible?
To survive without this lady was impossible.
Sita, of intoxicating qualities the highest,
Married to Rama, of arms the mightiest.
Highest compliment to both of them paid,
By the astute observations that Hanuman made.