Monday, December 17, 2012

Lakshmi’s Endorsement

Lakshmi Narayana“Seeing her, who was young and had a golden hue and was beloved to the whole world like Shri [Lakshmi], he went in mind to Rama and spoke these words.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 16.6)

tām dṛṣṭvā nava hema ābhām loka kāntām iva śriyam |
jagāma manasā rāmam vacanam ca idam abravīt ||

Why does the politician seek out endorsements? Should not their message alone be the determining factor in whether or not they are popular with the electorate? You know, take the arguments at face value, evaluate them through provoked thought, and then decide whether or not they make sense. If they do, you vote for that person, and if they don’t you look for other alternatives. You might also take into account the politician’s character, which is determined by their past record, to see whether or not they are worthy of your trust. The endorsement does help, however, because of character especially, and so when we find someone who has the best character, their endorsement should mean the most.

Let’s say that we know someone who is healthy. They are physically fit; they don’t overeat and they exercise properly. They don’t overindulge when eating out at restaurants, and they don’t constantly crave food. They have moderate eating habits and they seem happy. If they should endorse a particular diet or exercise regimen, we will likely take an interest in their word. Their character with respect to diet is high, so this means they become somewhat of an authority figure. “If they say such and such diet is good, perhaps they are right. I mean look at them. Just see how healthy they are.”

We can take the same principle and apply it to so many other areas, including politics. One leader is very popular because of the job he has done in office, so if he endorses someone else, he must know that they are fit for the job. [For the moment, we’ll cast aside the common practice of returning political favors.] The person offering the endorsement has established a good record in public service, so they must know what goes into making a good leader.

Now expand the character issue out to the largest scale. This means that you have to search for someone who is respected by all. One way to be respected by all is to be loved by all. Can such a person exist? Actually, there are so many forces that are already like this, but we may not realize that the forces have personalities behind them. The sun is benevolent to all, as it does not discriminate in spreading its effulgence. The air, earth, and other elements are the same way. They don’t specifically punish anyone. Grains, milk and water are relatively inexpensive and available in abundance, so they too are beneficial to all.

In the Vedas, the original scriptural tradition of India, it is explained that forces like the sun have personalities behind them. Think of it like the different body types we see on earth. The human beings have bodies suitable for living on land, while the birds have bodies suitable for flying. The fish can only live in water, and so on. Thus we see differences. Despite the differences, the species all represent life. The fish is a spirit soul just as much as the human being is.

The sun is a more powerful living entity, like a person who has a body made of fire. Fortune too also is managed by a personality. The controller of fortune is a female, and she is the eternal consort of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the original Lord. Known as Lakshmi Devi, the goddess of fortune is beloved of all because who doesn’t like fortune? Who actually prefers to have misfortune? Granted, sometimes bad luck helps bring us to a better position eventually, but isolating the misfortune itself, we see that it is not something anyone would want. The prefix “mis” speaks to the negative.

To receive fortune from Lakshmi Devi one should worship her. This should only make sense. I get cable television from the cable company when I pay the bill. I get water and electricity by paying the utilities companies. So if I want the broader benediction of good fortune, I should worship Lakshmi. Therefore in the Vedic tradition worship of Lakshmi is quite common, and the gifts she distributes make her beloved of all.

If she is beloved of all, her character is obviously quite high. With such a stellar character, who does she worship? This is an important question to ask because her behavior in this matter will serve as the ideal example. The answer is that Lakshmi worships her husband, who is known as Narayana, Vishnu, Krishna, and by so many other names. Though she has full control over fortune, she only takes pleasure in serving her husband. This means that her husband is automatically the most fortunate, and hence we get another name for Him: Bhagavan.

Hanuman worshiping Sita and RamaThat same Lakshmi was on earth many thousands of years ago as Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka. Shri Hanuman located her one time in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. Sita was separated from her husband Rama at the time, and Hanuman was in Lanka to find her. When observing her from afar, Hanuman appreciated her qualities. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Sita is described as beloved of the whole world, like Shri, which is another name for Lakshmi. Sita’s identity as the goddess of fortune isn’t directly revealed until the end of the Ramayana, but throughout the work hints are made about the same.

Sita’s mind is always focused on Rama, who is the same Narayana. Therefore her endorsement is the most meaningful. We see that her influence guides devotees along the same path. By looking at Sita, Hanuman immediately thought of Rama. And similarly, those who think of Hanuman automatically think of Sita and Rama, the goddess of fortune and God Himself. Sita is of the highest character, as is Hanuman, and thus it is not surprising that they would worship God as their only business in life, providing to us the proper path. The highest honor is paid to them through following bhakti-yoga, which is best practiced through the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

In Closing:

To remove doubt in the proper course,

We accept those who respected endorse.

 

A high character these figures own,

Through past work ability they’ve shown.

 

If recommendation of another they provide,

We take that other person as bona fide.

 

As goddess of fortune Shri beloved of all,

But whom her own Lord does she call?

 

Narayana, Bhagavan, is her life,

Serves Him eternally as His beloved wife.

 

Her endorsement the best one to take,

Worship of Sita and Rama your aim make.

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