Saturday, June 9, 2012

Brahman’s Form

Rama and Lakshmana“When he heard this, the muni said with love and excitement, ‘O king, these children are the appearance of your spiritual profit; they are the very Brahman.’” (Janaki Mangala, 46)

kaheu saprema pulaki muni suni mahipālaka |
e paramāratha rūpa brahmamaya bālaka ||

Brahman is the Supreme Absolute Truth. It is beyond duality. Whatever we see in front of us has two sides. There is the visual aspect given off to the perceiver, and there is also the actual constitutional position. From afar, we can capture the sun between our two fingers squished together, but in reality the sun’s size is massive. We cannot even get very close to the sun, for its heat would be too much to bear. On a hot day in the summer the heat coming from the sun causes us tremendous pain, and this is just the effect from thousands of miles away. Thus based on a visual image alone we can’t get a full understanding of something. Take the same principle and apply it to every single object and you get an idea of the strong presence of duality in the world we presently inhabit. Brahman is truth. It is not two-sided; it is not favorable to one individual and unfavorable to another. Though it lacks duality, Brahman still has a tangible form, a fact realized through practice in bhakti-yoga, or devotional service.

Why would someone think that Brahman is formless? For starters, the presence of a form sort of indicates a defect. If I see someone who is tall, that attribute automatically means that they are not short. Every feature is the negation of some other feature. Someone who is right-handed is not left-handed; though it is possible to be ambidextrous, but again that eliminates the attribute of either hand being dominant. A male cannot be a female and vice versa.

Brahman is pure spirit; it is not related to the temporary forms that the spirit souls occupy during their travels through reincarnation. Learning about Brahman is rare enough, but putting that information to good use is on a completely different level. I can tell myself that I am spirit and not matter but if my actions are based on the designations formed off of outward appearances, my acknowledgment doesn’t mean that much. It’s sort of like saying that you’re religious and then going out and killing innocent creatures, either human beings or animals. An innocent life is an innocent life, regardless of whether it’s flesh tastes good or if it serves as a nuisance to others.

Krishna and Balarama learning from Sandipani MuniIn the Vedic tradition, the steps required for understanding Brahman are difficult to follow. Therefore the education and training start from a very young age, where the students are sent to live with a spiritual master. Before there is a specific instruction offered on the differences between matter and spirit, the students learn to live with austerity, eating only what is necessary to maintain the body and not being puffed up by false prestige. A simple dress and shaved head help to reinforce those principles. Since the purpose of the training is to understand Brahman, the students are known as brahmacharis.

Going forward, a person who went through brahmacharya can rely on the training they received previously, as it is more difficult to understand Brahman during adulthood. For a king especially, not having attachment to outcomes is quite difficult. If it is my duty to protect the innocent people of the state and fight with the evil elements when necessary, how will dispassion help me? Should I not be passionate about carrying out my duties? Is not desire a necessary ingredient to success?

A king who is detached while simultaneously taking care of his obligations is very rare, which gives us an idea of why King Janaka is still talked about to this day. He practiced the principles of brahmacharya though he was a householder ruling over the kingdom of Mithila. He had no attachment to anything related to his body but he carried out his duties to preserve the good name of his family and to protect the citizens.

Detachment helps to further the realization of Brahman, and the purpose of knowing Brahman is to feel happiness. That pleasure of contemplating Brahman is known as brahmananda or brahmasukha. Janaka regularly felt this happiness because his consciousness never broke from Brahman. He knew that the body is a temporary vessel to be used to carry the wayward spirit soul back to its original constitutional position. Every living entity is meant to be God conscious, but through the influence of duality that awareness is missing, or at least temporarily forgotten.

Time’s influence on the mind also helps to further the illusion. We may be worried about what will happen tomorrow at work, but within a few short weeks that same period of time will be forgotten. In the grand scheme of things our duration of life is nothing. The spirit soul has travelled through many bodies in the past, so there is no need to pay too much attention to the immediate future. The soul will live on, so where it ends up after death becomes vitally important, especially if that destination can be a permanent one.

Knowledge of Brahman brings the realization of God’s impersonal feature, which in turn allows for release from the cycle of birth and death. But Brahman does have a form, a fact which can be accepted with certainty through training in the ultimate discipline of bhakti-yoga. In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala we get an idea of what Brahman’s form looks like. The same dispassionate Janaka had the great fortune of hosting a grand sacrifice to determine the husband for his unmarried daughter Sita. Many princes from around the world came to attempt to lift Lord Shiva’s bow, but it was a pair of brothers that really got Janaka’s attention.

Rama and LakshmanaThey hadn’t come specifically for the contest. They were escorting the exalted Vishvamitra Muni through the forests at the time. Janaka welcomed Vishvamitra as a good king should. The brahmanas, the members of the priestly class who know Brahman, are held in high esteem by the saintly kings. When he saw Rama and Lakshmana, Janaka’s happiness was unimaginable. He had felt brahmasukha before, but this happiness far surpassed that. Previously he was worried about paramartha, or spiritual profit, benefits which relate to the afterlife, but now seeing Rama and Lakshmana he wanted to only focus on svartha, or worldly interests, namely in looking at them.

Vishvamitra alleviated the king’s concerns by telling him that the two boys were indeed manifestations of Brahman. In this way what Janaka thought to be svartha was actually paramartha. The Supreme Lord has that effect on people when they view Him in the proper way. Brahman is but an angle of vision applied to Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Just as one way we can understand the sun is to notice the sunshine, one way of understanding God is to learn about Brahman and practice the principles that help one to attain the Brahman realization.

Our level of understanding doesn’t have an effect on the actual position of Bhagavan, though. He is beyond duality, so His spiritual form is not anything like the temporary forms that the jivas, or individual souls, accept and reject. Within the form of a young man Bhagavan can capture the hearts of the liberated souls. Lakshmana is practically equivalent to Bhagavan, as he is the Lord’s number one servant, always by His side. Thus Janaka got the true fruit of his pious acts by seeing Rama and Lakshmana and harboring spontaneous affection for them.

A point may be raised that if Brahman has a form that is Rama and Lakshmana, why is it said that Lord Krishna and Lord Vishnu also represent Bhagavan? What about all the different avataras of Vishnu? Bhagavan has an original form, which is taken to be Lord Krishna in the Vedic tradition. Vishnu is also sometimes considered the original, though the two are identical. One personality has four hands and the other two, but for all intents and purposes they are the same. The avataras are also non-different from Bhagavan; thus to say that Rama is the source of Brahman is accurate.

Lord RamaJust because there are many forms doesn’t mean that Bhagavan is formless or that the living entities are Bhagavan. With His spiritual forms the Supreme Lord can do things ordinary forms can’t. As a young child in Vrindavana, He lifted up a massive hill and held it over His head for seven consecutive days. As a young prince in Janaka’s kingdom, Rama lifted Lord Shiva’s bow and easily strung it. In fact, Lord Shiva has emphatically warned against thinking that Rama has a material body, declaring the mindset to be the pathway to doom. Bhagavan can eat with His ears, talk with His hands, see with His feet, etc. He is formless in the sense that His form is not limited in its abilities, but the form still exists.

King Janaka got to bask in the sweet vision of Rama and Lakshmana, and that provided a benefit that stayed with him after the fact. Paramartha and svartha become identical when the individual is immersed in bhakti-yoga and regularly chants the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. To the followers of bhakti, the true form of Brahman is one day revealed, and it is a sight worth waiting for.

In Closing:

In material nature everything with an aspect dual,

Good to some bad to others, with illusion it does fool.


But beyond duality is Brahman, a truth that is absolute,

Realize it by accepting the knowledge and austerity route.


Because elders difficult to teach, with change they are done,

Brahmacharya principles imbibed on those who are young.


King Janaka of Mithila dispassion his rule of life he made.

Though in royal opulence above duality he stayed.


But seeing muni’s protectors that were charming,

Felt supreme bliss, his videha stance harming.


Muni these doubts of the king to relieve,

“Rama and Lakshmana are Brahman, this fact you believe.”

Krishna's Mercy

Friday, June 8, 2012

Complaints Against The Chief

Lord Krishna“Because of the features of Krishna's face, the mothers were so attracted that they could not chastise Him. Instead of chastising Him, they smiled and enjoyed hearing of Krishna's activities. Thus the gopis remained satisfied, and Krishna enjoyed their happiness. Therefore another name of Krishna is Gopi-jana-vallabha because He invented such activities to please the gopis.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.31 Purport)

There He stood, pretending to be afraid of the punishment about to come His way. The accusations lodged against Him weren’t things one would typically be proud of. It was said that He had gone into the homes of the neighbors, found certain areas that were nice and clean, and then passed urine and stool there. As if to leave a nice surprise for the people to come home to, Yashoda’s young son was always causing some kind of trouble. He was a small child, so for accidents like this to happen isn’t out of the ordinary, but still it seemed like He was doing it on purpose. But something amazing happened. When the women would complain to His mother, none of them could remain angry at the delight of Vrindavana for long. If anything, their attachment to Him grew, and they further realized that He was their life and soul.

The young Krishna protested when accused of being a thief and a mischief maker. He certainly had stolen butter from the neighbors’ homes, but in reality everything in this world belongs to Him. To complain about His activities is like going up to the clerk in a courtroom and complaining about the way the judge is running the case. The judge is the final arbiter in matters pertaining to courtroom jurisprudence. He is to settle disputes and issues with relation to conduct. There is no point in going up to someone else in the courtroom and pointing out flaws in the judge’s conduct because he is the ultimate authority figure in the room.

Lord KrishnaThe Supreme Personality of Godhead owns everything in Vrindavana and the rest of the world for that matter. He appeared in that holy land some five thousand years ago due to His causeless mercy. Though He is the cause of all causes, whatever He does is without cause. Wrap your mind around that. Every reaction that we see in life has an initial action, which is instigated by a spark of life. Birth is the result of the union of the male and female and the nurturing of the child within the womb. The safe emergence from the womb isn’t guaranteed either, especially during times where abortion is both legal and sometimes promoted under the veil of proper health.

The birth of the individual is but one result, but take the sum collection of results currently visible and you get a better idea of how many causes there are. There are the past results, those occurring right now, and those that will arrive in the future. If you analyzed the nature of the reactions, even when something appears to happen randomly, there is always an initial cause. This was the point raised by a devoted younger brother a long time ago.

Shri Lakshmana, who is also addressed as Raghava because he appeared in the ancestral line of King Raghu, once had to give a pep talk to his elder brother Rama. The Supreme Lord was in the form of a warrior prince and when His wife went missing He became a little despondent. Not sure about what to do next, Rama accepted unsolicited advice from His younger brother. Though this wasn’t standard protocol, the kind Lakshmana made sure to remind Rama that the advice was something he previously had heard from Rama Himself. In this way Lakshmana proved to be a good student, an intelligent teacher, and a supportive younger brother.

“Unseen and indefinite are the good and bad reactions of fruitive work. And without taking action, the desired fruits of such work cannot manifest.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.17)

Lakshmana noted that no matter what type of result you see, either good or bad, pious or impious, there is an initial action. If Rama wanted to get Sita back, He had to take action. One way or another some action will take place, so might as well make it your action to see if that can effect the change you want.

Krishna stealing butterIf you ascend the chain of causes, climbing towards the more powerful forces, you eventually reach a starting point. That initial cause is known as God to most of the world, but in the Vedic tradition He is assigned thousands of names and descriptions to boot. As He is all-attractive, He is known as Krishna. Because He is the cause of every cause, He is described as sarva karana-karanam. Yet there is no cause to His whims; He does whatever He wants. If He feels like it, He can appear in Vrindavana as a young child and steal butter from the neighbors. He never has to explain Himself.

The veil of yogamaya creates a beneficial illusion for the devotees, as was seen with the gopis. They didn’t know that Krishna was God, and because of this they complained about Him to His mother. Though Krishna is aja, or unborn, He accepts parents during His descents to earth because of their specific desire. In past lives, the famous King Manu and his wife asked to have the Supreme Lord appear as their son, and He then did so as Lord Rama, the son of King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya. Later on, in the form of Krishna He appeared as the son of Vasudeva and mother Devaki.

Mother Yashoda had the special benediction of having Krishna grow up as her foster son, though she wasn’t aware that He hadn’t specifically appeared from her womb, for He had been transferred to Vrindavana from Mathura after appearing from Devaki’s womb. For all intents and purposes, based on the affection and protection she offered, Yashoda was Krishna’s mother. She was responsible for His behavior, so the neighbors thought that if she heard what He was doing in their homes, perhaps she could get Him to change His ways.

Yet she was quite amused by her son’s behavior. It’s almost as if the mother and son had conspired to carry out these acts. Though that wasn’t the case, she knew that Krishna was delightful, that He was so charming wherever He went. The gopis who lodged the complaints couldn’t stay angry at Krishna either. While reviewing His activities, essentially giving a discourse of the transcendental features of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the process, the mothers had some disappointment and anger in their voices in the beginning, but when they would turn their eyes towards Krishna those feelings would vanish.

What would the feelings be replaced with? Bliss, of course. The living being seeks ananda at every turn. You sleep at night to feel the blissful relief of having completed a hard day of work. You then get up the next morning to feel the bliss that comes from carrying out your activities, which help to avoid painful situations as well. With Krishna, since everything directly relating to Him is absolute, just looking at His smiling face is enough to bring pleasure.

Mother Yashoda and KrishnaIf we take the analysis a little further, we see that it was Krishna’s naughty behavior that caused the gopis to complain, which then led them to look at the young child’s face as He was being chastised. If not for the initial behavior, the bliss of looking at His sweet smiling face may not have come. That pleasure is enhanced when it arrives as a relief from tension that immediately preceded it. In this way Krishna knows how to pull just the right strings, how to manipulate the situation so that the best feelings can be extracted from the kind-hearted souls, who have no other desire than to cherish His company.

Is it any mystery, then, what the spiritual masters of the Vedic tradition would recommend to be the topmost activity in life? Just regularly chant, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and bring to mind that sweet vision of Krishna smiling while the gopis were angry. You can lodge as many complaints as you want against the chief, but since they make the rules there is nothing that can be done to change things without their sanction. As Krishna is the chief living entity, any direct approach towards Him will be to our benefit.

This also explains why the modes of spiritual activity devoid of bhakti are considered inferior. Through the study of the impersonal Brahman, there is no direct approach made to Krishna. If you don’t look to connect with Him directly, if your desire is to associate with something else, which at the same time denies God’s existence as a personality, why should you expect to see lasting benefits? The material energy is the object of worship for the atheists and the religionists in name only, who follow spirituality through a rubberstamp system. That energy is also an impersonal force, and it cannot provide shelter to anyone. Absent devotion, material nature only produces temporary rewards that keep consciousness fixed on mistaken identifications.

In bhakti-yoga, there is no insulting denial of Krishna’s existence. On the contrary, there is a direct attempt made to bask in the sweetness of His smiling face. The ears feel the pleasure of hearing of Krishna’s activities, the eyes the nectar of the vision of the deity, and the mouth the transcendental taste of foodstuff first offered to Krishna. In the purest exchanges of emotion, Krishna even accepts criticism offered His way. To the sender He then returns those complaints in the form of an enchanting smile, a vision the entire world is searching after.

In Closing:

Lodging complaints against the chief, what can that do?

They are in power, in charge of rules too,


The Supreme Chief does everything at His own will,

Causes planets to rotate and makes trees stand still.


In Vrindavana, the chasing gopis Shri Krishna dodged,

They then went to His mother and complaints lodged.


His acts of stealing butter and other pranks they dwelt upon,

But He returned them a charming smile and their anger was gone.


Thus know that Krishna’s misdeeds had a higher purpose,

Ensured that the devoted gopis His presence not to miss.

Krishna's Mercy

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Right Place Right Time

Hanuman meeting Sita“Moreover, she, who has eyes like a deer cub and is very experienced with this grove, being emaciated due to thinking of Rama, will surely come here.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.46)

athavā mṛga śāva akṣī vanasya asya vicakṣaṇā |
vanam eṣyati sā ca iha rāma cintā anukarśitā ||

On a prior occasion he thought that he had found her. Deep inside the palace of the King of Lanka, Ramadutta thought for sure that a beautiful woman he was looking at was the missing wife of Shri Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the warrior prince of Ayodhya in whose service Hanuman was faithfully engaged. Yet after a momentary period of elation marked by jumping up and down and kissing his monkey tail, Hanuman came back down to earth and thought a little more clearly. The beautiful woman he was looking at couldn’t be Sita, for the symptoms of her personage were not a match for the daughter of King Janaka. Moreover, the darkness in ambiance and behavior of the scene in question did not square with the purity of Rama’s wife. But now, in a different place and time, under conditions auspicious for that fateful meeting, Hanuman knew he was on to something.

What was wrong with the inside of the palace? Why wouldn’t Sita have been there? The scene was similar to something out of a brothel or nightclub. So many beautiful women were there, passed out drunk from a long night of partying and enjoying with each other and their husband, the King of Lanka. Ravana lived to eat and drink, so in his mind he used his time wisely. He acquired tremendous powers and through fighting won beautiful women as wives. With so much physical strength, he was able to secure an opulent city and fill it with sensual delights. Within that palace Hanuman saw the leader of the city passed out as well, amidst rows of cooked animal flesh and empty vessels of wine.

Lakshmana, Rama and SitaSita could not have been in such a scene enjoying with Ravana because that goes against her nature. The pure souls stay amidst purity. Even in situations where the external surroundings are not conducive to remembrance of the Supreme Lord, their connection to the divine consciousness never breaks. Sita would never have been intoxicated in Lanka nor would she have appeared to be beautifully dressed and pleased in such a situation. If anything, due to the separation from her husband, she would be terribly aggrieved, and never once would she look towards the way of that sinful leader of cruel deeds.

Ravana took Sita to Lanka by force, and through backhanded means at that. Though boastful of his prowess, he didn’t have the courage to take on Rama in a fair fight, for he was previously warned that he would lose in an instant. Nevertheless, after Ravana took Sita away in secret, he tried to win her over with flattering words. He also spoke of his opulence and his previous ousting of his brother Kuvera from Lanka, as if this were supposed to impress Sita, the chaste wife of Rama. Kuvera is a demigod, living in the mode of goodness, so how could she be impressed with an ogre who unjustifiably attacked his innocent brother? Ravana thought this was not only a source of pride but something to be mentioned to a woman he was trying to woo.

Sita then offered a series of brilliant comparisons to show the difference between Rama and Ravana, or in essence good and evil. Favorable and unfavorable can change depending on the situation, so true good and evil can only refer to God and those who are against Him. The good is that which stays in the Lord’s company, always hoping to please Him and following His orders aimed at bringing about the divine understanding. Evil is that which goes against the purification of consciousness, which seeks to strike out the divine influence from society. This itself is humorous and representative of the height of stupidity, as the very concept of an existence proves the divine’s existence. If you could wipe out everything, including your own ability to think that there is no God, only then would God’s influence be fully removed.

The evil try to thwart the divine influence in terms of the ability of others to worship. Hence Ravana and his ilk are always evil, and Sita and her followers are always on the side of good. She could never be won over by Ravana, and not only because she was lawfully wedded to Rama. She enjoyed her husband’s company more than anyone else’s, so she already experienced the highest taste. Imagine purchasing a top of the line high-definition television system, watching all your programs on it for years, and then suddenly going back to standard definition. Obviously you will not be too happy, and not necessarily because the new television set is deficient. It’s just that you have grown accustomed to a superior viewing experience, which you now come to expect.

“How can that female swan who is accustomed to sporting with the king of swans amidst lotus flowers ever cast her eyes on a water-crow that stays amidst bunches of grass?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 56.20)

Sita and RamaSita’s superior experience was in regular association. Rama was like a swan, always amidst lotus flowers, and Ravana was like a crow, rummaging through garbage and lowly weeds. Thus Sita, the beloved wife of the swan, could not now start enjoying the garbage life of eating meat, drinking to your heart’s content, and instilling terror in others. Indeed, these are the behaviors of the lowest in society, who have fallen so far down that they are reduced to homelessness. Such persons are pitied by the saints and every effort is made to reform them, not imitate them. Though Ravana lived like such a desperate and lost soul, he thought that Rama was the one who was poverty-stricken, for He was residing in the forest at the time.

To Sita the forest was just fine, more suitable than any opulent palace, for she enjoyed her husband’s company there. The pristine setting of the forest is just the place for Sita, Rama and Lakshmana, the Lord’s younger brother, to reside, for the quiet setting allows their qualities to shine forth. In the austere environment, the watchers harbor a stronger attachment to the divine trio, much more so than when the same group is sitting on a throne dressed in royal garb. We enjoy the company of our friends and family not when they are busy at work or holding an important position in society, but when they are spending time with us away from their other obligations. In the same way, the Supreme Lord’s company is best appreciated and cherished when the reverential attitude is stripped away, when there is pure love directed at Him.

Hanuman, the valiant warrior assigned the task of finding Sita, was now in a grove consisting mainly of Ashoka trees. This was the one area he had yet to search in Lanka. After surveying the wonderful scenery and the beautiful trees, Hanuman perched himself onto a tree and waited for Sita. He was pretty sure that she would come by this way, for he knew her tendencies. Unlike the inside of Ravana’s palace, this place would be more to her liking.

Hanuman meeting SitaIn the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we see Hanuman referring to Sita’s beautiful eyes, which are like those of a deer cub. The comparison is intentional, as deer live in the forest areas. Sita’s eyes were stunningly beautiful, showing off her purity and innocence. With those wonderful eyes she would lovingly gaze at her husband Rama and thus give Him so much pleasure. Those eyes had no trouble seeing in the forest, for Sita was known for being expert at traversing the wilderness. Though she was a princess, she was not coddled or spoiled in any way. She gave up royal opulence to serve her husband, instantly giving her worldwide fame. Anasuya, the wife of the sage Atri, appreciated Sita and knew of her history when she hosted Sita, Rama and Lakshmana during a visit. It is quite astonishing that a person growing up in royalty would suddenly give up everything, but Sita had no attachment to material opulence or fame. She enjoyed the nature that her husband created, for He is the very same Narayana, the source of men.

Hanuman also knew that Sita would be distressed from thinking about Rama. In that condition, she would be more likely to roam through the woods, as that was the setting when she last saw her husband. She lived with Him in the wilderness for upwards of thirteen years already, with one year remaining in Rama’s exile term. In the initial period after Sita went missing, Rama noticed the signs of spring in the forest, and these signs reminded Him of Sita and how much she enjoyed the blooming flowers.

If nature’s beauty created a longing in Rama to be with His wife, the same desire would exist in Sita. Roaming the forest would help to remind her of her husband, so Hanuman was banking on this characteristic in her. Though the meeting wouldn’t take place in exactly the way he thought, Hanuman’s overall characterization of Sita was correct. By meeting her, he would fulfill the mission assigned to him. He would deliver to her the life-giving news that Rama was on His way to rescue her and that she needn’t worry. That beautiful lady with the eyes of a deer cub was so pleased by Hanuman’s bravery and kindness that to this day she is still his greatest well-wisher, giving him whatever he needs. Sita is the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi, so there is no end to the wealth that she can distribute. Yet all Hanuman wants is the ability to worship Sita and Rama, and so the beloved daughter of King Janaka provides all the necessary tools for him to perform that worship.

In Closing:

From his perch on situation below Hanuman spies,

Looking for Sita, she of deer-cub like eyes.


The forest to her like a second home,

Looking for Rama around it she’d roam.


With Supreme Swan she developed higher taste,

So with ogre-king of Lanka time she wouldn’t waste.


Thus recounting qualities of Sita so pure,

Of seeing her here Hanuman was now sure.


Meeting in that Ashoka grove, but in different spot,

Gave her news of Rama, despair to temporarily stop.

Krishna's Mercy

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pivot of the Active Senses

Radha and Krishna“Mind or desire cannot be stopped, but to develop a desire to function for spiritual realization, the quality of engagement by the mind has to be changed. The mind is the pivot of the active sense organs, and as such if the quality of thinking, feeling and willing is changed, naturally the quality of actions by the instrumental senses will also change.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.17 Purport)

When you change the direction of the pivot, the instruments hooked up to it will yield a different output. The direction is towards a different area, though the work provided will be of the same variety. The pivot is like a director, or the person driving the car. Your automobile can take you to places that are good for your overall health or to a dangerous situation. The collection of objects used to run the car has no bearing on the decision, however. It is the pivot, the driver, who can operate off of rational thought and intelligence, that can determine what kind of fortunes one finds.

Delving further into the matter, it is the mind which directs all of the senses of the individual to act. Therefore, by changing the situation of the mind, one can shift from a miserable condition to a pleasurable one. This is the reverse of how we tend to operate. Generally, it is the exterior conditions themselves that are taken to be superior. Get more money, take a vacation to a foreign city, play a game, eat some nice food, or just do something that will bring excitement. Though there is external action involved here, it is really the situation of the mind that determines the pleasurable or miserable condition. That same mind can be positively situated without any external movement of the body.

How does this work exactly? Just think of thinking. Look at how remembering works. Find a pleasurable condition from your past and just relive it within the mind. You are transported to that place and time, but your body hasn’t moved. It is your mind that recreates the scene and goes through the experience again. You can do the same thing with the future, as the mind can create mock scenes of an event that has yet to come by using past experiences as reference points.

An easier way to find happiness is to use your thoughts to direct the senses towards positive behavior. As the mind is a product of consciousness, if our thoughts can be in contact with the supreme consciousness, there is a higher director to guide the pivot of the senses. That supreme consciousness belongs to the Supreme Controller, who has a place inside of everyone’s heart. He sits there as a neutral witness, distributing the rewards to action but not taking the initial impetus.

“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)

Krishna's lotus feetThe comparison to the navigation system available in a car is applicable here. Based on your location and the place you wish to go, the GPS device can tell you which turns to take and when. But when the machine is turned off or muted, it is of no use to the driver. The presence of the GPS device can’t be denied, but within the mind of the driver it’s as if it weren’t there.

The Supersoul within the heart has a similar ability to direct, but He is all-powerful. This means that He knows past, present, and future for every single living entity. Moreover, since the material nature is created through His will, only by His sanction can any visible result manifest. For instance, when we let go of an object from our hand it falls to the ground. We can predict the result based on our knowledge of the law of gravity, but the Supersoul is responsible for the law’s existence. Therefore He is the ultimate authority figure.

The mind can be trained to tap into the divine consciousness resting within through using the active senses. It is the hearing and seeing abilities of the driver that allow them to follow the instructions of the navigation system when it is turned on, and similarly all of the senses within can be used to tune into the divine instructions coming from the best well-wisher of the living entity, the Supersoul. He wishes only the best for us, despite the fact that sometimes it looks like we’re not getting what we want.

For instance, the mind might be accustomed to using its pivot to dive into activities like meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex, but the divine consciousness will recommend against these activities. Not knowing any better, the mind thinks that the direction is a sort of punishment, a pointless exercise that provides needless pain. Yet the higher authority that is the Supersoul knows the constitutional position of the individual and how it is to be in a pure consciousness, one that follows a mood of devotion.

Radha and KrishnaThat mood brings real happiness and not the temporary variety resulting from other engagements, those which occur through the pivot that is the deluded mind. The divine consciousness also directs the pivot of the senses to chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. The tongue and ears are two vital organs of the senses, and so they needn’t be ignored. The tongue has the ability to produce an audible representation of God’s personal aspect, and the ear has the ability to hear that powerful sound. That combination alone can bring the peaceful and pleasurable condition the mind is searching after.

The instructions of the divine consciousness are first received from the spiritual master, or guru. The guru is the external representation of the Supreme Lord’s wisdom, and through following that good advice, the mind learns to take direction from the Supersoul within. After all, the recommendation for chanting and avoiding the four pillars of sinful life comes from the Supersoul originally, but the mind is unwilling to take this direction. The spiritual master’s teaching can be likened to how the turn-by-turn directions of the navigation system are heard through the speaker of the device, while they actually originate from the processing component inside.

The spiritual master is the Supersoul’s mouthpiece, broadcasting the message of divine love to anyone who is willing to hear it. Shri Shri Nimai Nitai took that benevolence to another level by bringing the holy names to the public forum, giving everyone a chance to learn how to properly use the mind. Whether someone likes to hear about the need for devotional service or not should not influence the enthusiasm of the preacher, for the process of glorifying the Supreme Lord and the discipline that keeps one connected with Him is reward enough.

The guru directs the mind to think, feel and will in a different way. The Supersoul already delivered the results to action prior to connection with the divine consciousness, so for the devoted mind this process doesn’t change. What does differ, however, is that the Supersoul goes from being an impartial witness to directly intervening on behalf of the individual. God notices the sincere effort to connect with Him, so the nature of the results can change for the better. The mind still acts as the pivot of the active sense organs, but since the senses are directed towards devotional activities, the results fall under the Supreme Lord’s personal jurisdiction, where He directly influences outcomes.

Shri Shri Nimai NitaiSuch kind interference is absent in the pursuit of material sense gratification, where the laws sort of operate on their own, without personal preference. Two people may desire material opulence, but they are not both guaranteed to receive it. Karma, the system of action and reaction, takes effect, and based on the sum total of a person’s past deeds, they get the results they deserve, which may not match up directly with what they desire.

In the bhakti-yoga taught by the Vaishnava spiritual master, the desire is to stay connected with the divine consciousness, so all the behavior followed has the same outcome. One can be thinking of God in quiet meditation like Bharata, the son of King Dasharatha, and stay in bhakti-yoga. One can also be actively engaged in fighting and doing reconnaissance like Shri Hanuman and still receive the sweet fruit of a steady stream of thoughts directed to Bhagavan and His divine qualities. The gopis of Vrindavana carry out their routine work in the homes and community and they are considered the topmost yogis by Lord Chaitanya.

“A man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 6.5)

For the devoted soul the exact use of the senses may not always be the same, but the end condition always is. The mind is very powerful, so one who can learn how to use it properly can find true wealth, namely daily inspiration to please the beloved origin of matter and spirit, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

In Closing:

So that from peaceful state you don’t deviate,

Think that influence of mind you can eliminate.


But know that mind always to operate,

Purify it to find perpetual pleasant state.


Pivot of the active senses is the mind,

Connect with God for divine pleasure to find.


Not to blame for the travel are the car’s parts,

Driver determines whether moves or stays parked.


Learn from spiritual master what is piety and what is sin,

From practicing bhakti, take guidance from God within.

Krishna's Mercy

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Real Self-Interest

Rama and Lakshmana“I had turned my mind away from sense gratification and instead did service for meeting spiritual interests. But now seeing them [Rama and Lakshmana] I knowingly want to seek out selfish interests.” (Janaki Mangala, 45)

biṣaya bimukha mana mora sei paramāratha |
inhahiṃ dekhi bhayo magana jāni baḍa svāratha ||

In the Shrimad Bhagavatam, the crown-jewel of Vedic literature, there is a statement by Prahlada Maharaja relating to the self-interest of every human being. Artha refers to profit or interest, and it can be of two kinds. First there are the selfish desires, those things we want for our body as it is currently constituted. Then there are the spiritual interests, desires to be met in the afterlife, after we have exited our current body. Though typically a distinction is made between the two types of interest, Prahlada kindly notes that one’s self-interest can actually be met by going towards Vishnu, the Supreme Lord. In that endeavor there is no question of a difference between the interests of the self in the present world and the assets accumulated for the afterlife.

“Persons who are strongly entrapped by the consciousness of enjoying material life, and who have therefore accepted as their leader or guru a similar blind man attached to external sense objects, cannot understand that the goal of life is to return home, back to Godhead, and engage in the service of Lord Vishnu. As blind men guided by another blind man miss the right path and fall into a ditch, materially attached men led by another materially attached man are bound by the ropes of fruitive labor, which are made of very strong cords, and they continue again and again in materialistic life, suffering the threefold miseries.”  (Prahlada Maharaja, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.31)

Prahlada MaharajaA distinction is only seen because there is a supposed difference in behavior guided by the particular state of mind. With focus on svartha, or self-interest, there is so much work to be done. If my selfish interest is to be wealthy, I will purchase some land and try to either flip it for a higher price or have tenants to pay the monthly bills. Another pathway towards wealth is owning your own business, providing a good or service to society for a fee that enables you to earn a profit. These interests are selfish, as they only relate to the present body, which is destined for destruction.

To use another example, let’s say that you are in your senior year of college. You know that you will be graduating and moving on to the real world of working at the end of the year, so your focus isn’t so much on school anymore. The real self-interest is in preparing yourself for graduation and then working after that, but you instead foolishly concentrate only on the right now, the present. Because of this you take your self-interest to be partying and drinking with your friends, night after night. In the short term you will feel pleasure, but the behavior isn’t wise because your identity as a graduating college student will expire very shortly. Once that identity leaves, the partying you did previously will not help you going forward.

Svartha as a whole suffers from the same defect, namely the changing of identity. Therefore the Vedas put emphasis on paramartha, or supreme profit. These are the interests relating to the afterlife, where one heads after the present life completes. To acquire unselfish, spiritual merits one has to turn their back on the things presently constituting svartha. Eating, sleeping, mating and defending are activities of the animals that the human being follows as well. Nevertheless, they do not meet the higher interests of the living entity, so with proper instruction one can learn to indulge in them as little as possible.

In this way paramartha generally equates to renunciation. Give up those things which don’t relate to your true identity as a spirit soul, who is beyond the temporary manifestations of matter. To meet paramartha, follow the Vedic rituals and regulations, live by austerity, don’t get too attached to anything of the phenomenal world, and then be Brahman realized. Brahman is the Absolute Truth. It is pure spirit, a giant collection of energy of which we are part. Every living entity is a spark of Brahman, so they are eternal, blissful and knowledgeable by constitution, though the current collection of material elements inhibits that position from rising to a fully active state.

King JanakaThough he was the ruler of Mithila, King Janaka was solely focused on paramartha. He had renounced the pursuit for selfish interests in favor of abiding by dharma. He was an adept yogi, capable of withdrawing the mind from the objects of the senses. Even though he was renounced and focused on paramartha, he still exhibited model behavior by taking care of his occupational duties. He managed his kingdom very well, and when his eldest daughter reached the proper age, he arranged for her marriage.

In the kshatriya community, it is quite common for marriages to be determined by a show of dexterity or bravery. Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, married over sixteen thousand wives during His time on earth, and almost every one of them were won through a contest or a kidnap-style arrangement. A warrior must fight, just as a general must have a mission to lead. If these opportunities for action are absent, the titles don’t mean anything. The kings of the past would welcome any opportunity to show their fighting prowess. From the father’s side, if he could see a young man showing off his strength in battle, he would take it as a sign that his daughter would be protected by him.

Janaka held a contest for lifting an extremely heavy bow. The winner would show that they were the strongest man in the world. They would prove their ability to protect Sita Devi, the beloved daughter of the king. Though he was renounced from the world, Janaka still held high affection for his beloved daughter, whom he had found one day while ploughing a field. She was a baby at the time, and Janaka took her in and raised her as his daughter. Now it was time to give her away.

We got a hint of the true meaning of svartha when Janaka held affection for Sita upon seeing her for the first time, and in the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, we are again reminded of that meaning. Lord Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana came to Janaka’s city to witness the festivities. They were accompanying the exalted Vishvamitra Muni through the forests. When Janaka saw the two brothers, he couldn’t believe how beautiful they were. “Who are their parents? They must be an ocean of purity. These boys are unbelievably beautiful and I can’t stop looking at them.”

In the above referenced verse, which is both insightful and humorous, Janaka remarks on how he had previously given up sense gratification in favor of chasing paramartha, but now he was only interested in seeking selfish-interest to a large degree by looking at these youths. Yet from the instruction of Prahlada Maharaja, we see that Janaka was actually not breaking from his previous position. Because Shri Rama is Vishnu Himself and Lakshmana the Lord’s eternal servant, harboring affection for them does fulfill paramartha. Since they appeared in a world where the general pursuit is for selfish interests, Janaka thought that appreciating their beauty and wanting to soak in the visual nectar over and over again was a selfish desire.

Rama and LakshmanaIn the arena of bhakti, becoming selfish actually equates to happiness both in the present and future. The self-interest of the living entity is met by immersing oneself in the transcendental qualities of the Supreme Lord. One can hear about these qualities, chant mantras describing them, or witness them personally as Janaka did. Suddenly, the great king’s renunciation went out the window. No more strict austerity, penance, and sacrifice for worrying about merits that may or may not arrive in the afterlife. His focused shifted to the here and now, looking at God and His younger brother while they were in front of him.

Should one be interested only in paramartha, the steps they take to secure it nevertheless purifies them and makes them eligible for witnessing the same beauty that Janaka saw. But with worship of Vishnu you don’t have to wait until the afterlife to enjoy the benefits. The spirit soul is constitutionally situated to be a lover of God, so that love can be released at any moment and at any stage in life. Both selfish and unselfish merits exhaust after a certain period of time, but harboring a loving attachment for God only brings more opportunities for service in the future.

Seeing Rama and Lakshmana, Janaka developed a strong affection for them, and though he thought he had fallen back into the world of material association, he actually started his real service to God. His dispassion made him pure and his attention to dharma made him respected and worthy of spiritual merits, but it was his love for Sita that brought Rama and Lakshmana to his kingdom. It would be his love for the Supreme Lord that would make him famous throughout history, as he is still celebrated and honored to this day for his devotion.

In Closing:

Prahlada Maharaja says man does not know,

That his real self-interest is to Vishnu’s realm to go.


Svartha for sense gratification to acquire,

Paramartha for spiritual realm to aspire.


But in bhakti-yoga no such distinction,

For devotional service is desired condition.


With worldly life King Janaka thought he was done,

But changed when seeing visitors who had come.


Rama and Lakshmana, of beauty one couldn’t believe.

From attachment to them real self-interest receive.

Krishna's Mercy

Monday, June 4, 2012

Satisfying Every Condition

Lord Krishna“Everyone is engaged in material sense gratification, but people have no plan for making an ultimate solution to their real problems, namely, birth, disease, old age and death. These four material miseries are called bhava-roga, or material diseases. They can be cured only by Krishna consciousness. Therefore Krishna consciousness is the greatest benediction for human society.”  (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 3.97 Purport)

The principles of bhakti-yoga cut so to the core of the individual that they satisfy the worker in whatever condition they may be. Young or old, wealthy or impoverished, content or hankering, married or unmarried - these opposites are of no concern when trying to connect with the reservoir of pleasure. In any other area of endeavor the benefit is checked based on the condition of the living entity, thereby proving its inferiority and also its irrelevance.

“But how is it irrelevant? If I follow a system that works for me, is not that applicability at least relevant to me? For instance, if I eat on time, consuming small meals throughout the day, that helps to maintain my weight. I steer clear of the bloated feeling that accompanies too much eating. No more am I lethargic after a heavy meal and no more do I feel weighed down by what I’m eating. Therefore there is a practical relevance for me.”

The irrelevance comes into play based on the temporary condition achieved. A fit external body is but only a single component of a much higher ideal goal. The thief can have a fit body, but does that do anything to really benefit them or anyone else? If my aim is to take property that belongs to others without them knowing about it, is the system of eating that works for me important in the larger scheme?

The limitation exists in the opposite direction as well. Even if I am not a thief, the reward of a temporary condition that is pleasurable has no bearing in the long run if other aspects are not taken care of. It’s something like washing the car that has no gasoline in it. Without fuel in the gas tank, the car cannot be driven. This means that no matter how clean the exterior is, the car’s true value is not utilized.

japa malaBhakti-yoga reaches into the depths of the soul and extracts the true potential for action. Within that enlivened state, the ancillary concerns are accounted for automatically. To use the previous example again, with an identified objective of a fit body, I automatically tweak my daily routine. I may or may not know how to eat properly in the beginning, but with trial and error and an evaluation of the results with respect to the final goal, I can decide which procedures work and which ones don’t.

If my goal is not worthwhile to every single person, there is a limiting factor to the procedures that I adopt. Bhakti addresses the needs of the spirit soul, which represents the identity of every individual. Without the soul’s satisfaction, no system of maintenance can be universally applicable. Take the issue of sense gratification. For someone who is attached only to the temporary body, the desire is to have as much fun as possible. Without knowledge of the soul, “fun” is defined as anything that will satisfy the senses. Therefore the natural result is to eat, sleep, and drink as much as possible. Eat meat, gamble, drink alcohol, and try to find sexual connections that are illicit to derive happiness.

We know from the conditions of modern society that these pursuits don’t bring lasting happiness. These four behaviors are rampant and even encouraged in a godless civilization, yet everyone remains unhappy. There is constant worry over the future, over what will become of the temporary body. There is also excessive lamentation for others, even though every one of us is in the same condition. It is easy for a human being to pity others, but each person is worthy of lamentation due to the fragile nature of the body.

“Whom are you lamenting for when you yourself are pitiable? Why do you pity the poor when you yourself have now been made poor? While in this body that is like a bubble, how can anyone look at anyone else as being worthy of lamentation?” (Hanuman speaking to Tara, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 21.3)

HanumanWe must also incorporate the fact that the life of hedonism is not appealing to someone who knows the nature of the soul and how to connect with the reservoir of pleasure. From this fact alone we get a limitation to the atheist’s motto of “do whatever you want, whenever you want.” But when you flip things around, you see that bhakti-yoga brings happiness even to the atheist, in spite of their initial reluctance to practice it.

So what are the principles of bhakti? At its core bhakti-yoga is about love established in an unbreakable link to the divine. Yoga is the connection of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul, and when you throw bhakti into the mix, you’re basically connecting your consciousness to God. There is no selfish motive in pure bhakti, as desire is made pure. To desire is to live, so in this sense hankerings never cease. When the worries relate to the Supreme Lord’s interests and the ability to serve them, however, the mood is considered truly unselfish.

The atheist is obviously looking for happiness. If they take to the foundational principles of bhakti, which involve chanting and hearing, there is automatic renunciation from behavior that is not worthwhile. We know that we should fall asleep at a certain time at night in order to be fully rested for the next day, but the tendency is to stay up late and not worry about restricting deadlines. But if we can force ourselves into a worthwhile habit, we find happiness anyway, despite our urge in the opposite direction. In a similar manner, if one dedicates some time to regularly chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and hearing from sacred texts like the Shrimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita, at least that portion of their day is spent in a localized transcendental realm, with the positive and away from the negative.

Lord Chaitanya with Lord KrishnaFor the serious yogi in bhakti, the chanting routine is extended to a fixed minimum number of daily recitations of the maha-mantra on a set of japa beads. There is also a prohibition on meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex. What is considered bitter in the beginning turns into sweet nectar, whereas with sense gratification in ignorance the situation is reversed. The person in bhakti feels the pleasure of connecting with God, which in turn makes them more anxious to continue that service going forward. The person who despises God or ignores His existence at least with bhakti finds a peaceful routine and a way to steer clear of activities that are so harmful. In this way both sets of participants benefit. As the devotee and staunch atheist represent the extreme opposite ends of the spectrum, every type of condition in between is accounted for as well.

As bhakti-yoga is the superior discipline, its proponents and original teacher must be given proper credit. The staunchest advocates are the spiritual masters of the Vaishnava tradition, and the original teacher is their object of worship, Lord Krishna. His direct instructions are provided in the Bhagavad-gita, and the saintly class which follows bhakti knows how to explain those instructions to the society of the time. Thus humbly approaching such kind-hearted souls proves to be auspicious, a meeting to change one’s life for the better. The eligibility for that fortunate meeting is not limited to any section of society, and the spark of life can be invigorated in any condition, even seconds before one quits their body, showing once again that Krishna’s discipline of bhakti is the sweetest of them all.

In Closing:

Dharma is followed by even a thief,

Though their theft causes others grief.


Atheists at all costs senses to satisfy,

Rules of propriety they willfully defy.


But this won’t bring pleasure to those who are pure,

Of the divine principles’ effectiveness they are sure.


Bhakti in any condition benefits to bring.

Sweetness after regulation’s initial sting.


Both devotee and atheist from bhakti do gain,

Of no other process can we say the same.

Krishna's Mercy

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Going By What You Know

Sita Devi“Janaki, Rama’s beautiful queen, always dear to Raghava, expert at walking about in the forest, will certainly come this way.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.45)

sā rāma rāma mahiṣī rāghavasya priyā sadā |
vana samcāra kuśalā nūnam eṣyati jānakī ||

To predict the behavior of someone else, you rely on your knowledge of their personality traits, what is important to them and what things they like to do. Sometimes jokes are even made of these tendencies, such as with police officers and doughnut shops. The stereotype is that police officers like to frequent doughnut shops during their breaks, so the joke is that if you want to find a police officer, just go to one of these shops. The same type of categorization is made based on the behavior of the people we know very well. If they like to eat at certain places, sleep for certain periods of time, watch specific television shows, etc., we can use that information to predict where they will be at a certain time.

For a hero a long time ago that knowledge was necessary because he needed to find a particular princess, who had been forcibly separated from the company of her dear husband, who was the eldest son of King Dasharatha and the jewel of the Raghu dynasty. His wife was equally as worthy of being a member of this royal family, and so the pair looked like they were a match made in heaven. King Raghu was a famous ruler in this dynasty from several generations back, so his descendants were expected to uphold the good family name.

Sita and RamaThat name was synonymous with virtue. For the person in power, the dedication to virtue is most important. If you follow virtue in your own life, perhaps you can set a good example for family members and you also maintain a proper end for yourself going forward, but the more people that you influence, the more important your behavior becomes. In a governed community, no one person is more scrutinized than the leader. Whether they are elected to that post or occupy it based on heredity, the attention paid to them is the same. The subjects will follow the lead of the head of state, and so if there is corruption at the highest levels, you can’t expect the community to live in peace.

King Dasharatha upheld his end of the bargain nicely, and his four sons would follow in his footsteps. Rama was the eldest, so He was to inherit the awesome responsibility of ruling over a kingdom and setting a good example. The kings would beget children to keep the family line going, and for this to happen they needed suitable queens. Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka, was Rama’s queen, and she was suitable for Him in every way. More than just a factory to produce children, the religiously wedded wife is the support system for the pious husband. Wouldn’t we all be more productive if we had people helping us out? Wouldn’t our jobs be made easier if others lent their expertise and guidance to our affairs, especially if they were knowledgeable on the subjects in question?

The chaste wives of the Vedic tradition fulfill this role very nicely, and Sita was no different in this regard. Because of her utmost concern for Rama, she was always dear to Him, so much so that Dasharatha’s eldest son never wanted her to suffer any pain. This was shown when Rama was banished from the kingdom for fourteen years on the day just before He was to be handed over the throne. Rama did not want Sita to come with Him, and not because of anything she had done. Rather, Rama did not want her to suffer in exile, to live in the austere conditions of the wilderness.

“Moreover, O highly knowledgeable one, I heard before from the brahmanas in my father's home that in truth I should reside in the forest. Ever since I heard those words from the brahmanas versed in interpreting marks on the body in my home, I have always been enthusiastic about living in the forest, O highly powerful one.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 29.8-9)

Sita and RamaSita had an interesting history that was appropriate for mention during this particularly troubling time. She, of course, wanted to go with Rama, for she did not want Him to suffer alone. It is the duty of the wife to support her husband, and Sita conveniently invoked those duties to get what she wanted: Rama’s association. To support her arguments, she pointed to her own past history, such as when brahmanas in her father’s kingdom had hinted that she would live in the forest. Moreover, it was known to all that Sita was found as a baby while in the earth. King Janaka discovered her while ploughing a field and then took her in as his daughter.

This presentation wasn’t required from Sita, but she did not want to take any chances. Why give Rama an opportunity to defeat her with logic and reasoning when she had an impeccable case supporting her position? The upholder of dharma had no choice but to agree to her requests, which made Sita very happy. Thus the couple happily roamed the forests of India, visiting various hermitages along the way and receiving the blessings of many saints. Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana was with them, as he also refused to remain in the kingdom without Rama.

Hanuman, a valiant warrior sent to the island of Lanka to find Sita many years later, was well aware of this history, which is nicely documented in the Ramayana poem for our reference. Sita was kidnapped by the Rakshasa king of Lanka during her stay in the forest, and Rama and Lakshmana subsequently teamed up with a band of forest-dwellers in Kishkindha to find her. Hanuman was the only one of the Vanaras in Kishkindha who could make it to Lanka, where it was learned Sita had been taken.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we see Hanuman reminding himself of some of Sita’s attributes. To Hanuman, this serves as assurance that he has made the right decision in staying up on this tree in the Ashoka grove, a park of trees and flowers situated next to the head palace in the city. Up until this time Hanuman has not found Sita, but for some reason this pristine area inside of an otherwise passionately consumed city gives hints that maybe Janaka’s daughter is here.

Hanuman worshipingWe see that Hanuman knows that Sita is expert at walking about in the forests. Though she was the wife of the prince of Ayodhya, and thus very wealthy, she had no attachment to that wealth. In fact, just prior to leaving for the forest, at Rama’s insistence Sita gave away in charity all of the couple’s wealth to brahmanas, or priests. The priestly class doesn’t require such gifts, but when they come from the kind and benevolent Sita, how can they refuse? Sita and Rama are the goddess of fortune Lakshmi and the Supreme Lord Narayana respectively, appearing on earth in manifestations that others can see and appreciate.

Sita offers the same benedictions to Rama’s dearest servants who are outside of the priestly class, reminding us that her behavior during her time on earth gave a fortunate glimpse of her true nature, which the humble listeners to the Ramayana poem are gifted. Hanuman to this day takes so much enjoyment from reading the Ramayana over and over again, and the sections describing Sita’s characteristics are certainly noteworthy. Hanuman himself was an expert on the divine qualities of Rama’s wife, and he used that knowledge to figure out where she would be at a specific time.

The successful end was to be expected for Rama’s dearest servant. Just as Hanuman was able to locate Sita based on her characteristics previously shown, we should know that the Supreme Lord’s favor as well as Hanuman’s can be predicted in the same way. Whoever should regularly recite the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and give honor and respect to the devotees of the same Sita, Rama, Lakshmana and Hanuman will surely be granted favor from the worshipable figures in question. The greatest favor they can bestow is their association, and that comes from the holy name itself, which is all-inclusive. Based on what we know of those wonderful characters, their benevolence is never limited to any section of society and it is always waiting to be bestowed on whoever so desires it.

In Closing:

In opulent palaces Sita didn’t like to stay,

Would rather go to forest, take the ascetic’s way.


This tendency brahmanas in her youth indicated,

On that her argument to follow Rama predicated.


Hanuman also knew that Sita as baby found in field’s dirt,

Thus of divine qualities of Rama’s wife he was an expert.


Chances to find her dwindled as the clock ticked,

Relied on this information for her behavior to predict.


Know that Hanuman succeeds, Sita to meet,

Use knowledge of God’s qualities for happiness to greet.