Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sharada Purnima

Rama and Lakshmana“In that royal meeting, the two jewels of the Raghu family were looking so beautiful, like the brightest moons of the fall season amongst the stars that brighten the earth.” (Janaki Mangala, 49)

rājata rāja samāja jugala raghukula mani |
manahum̐ sarada ubhaya nakhata dharanī dhani ||

In the Vedic tradition the auspicious rituals observed every month go off the lunar cycle. The months and years are determined by the position of the moon, how full it is, etc. In the autumn season the full moon is especially auspicious because of its brightness. Known as the Sharada Purnima, this full moon stands out the most in the sky which is already full of so many stars. This particular moon was referenced to try to describe how two sons of King Dasharatha looked in an assembly of kings gathered to participate in a contest where the winner would receive the goddess of fortune as a wife.

The earth is more important than the objects which grow on it because the seeds of life are found within the earth. The vegetation, grass, and general plant life sustain the population, which includes the meat eaters, but without the seeds found within the earth there would be no question of life continuing. Therefore the earth is the more important object to have. In a similar manner, the stars in the sky brighten the dark night, but the sky itself is more important. The sky contains all the stars, so as soon as you have the sky, you will automatically get the stars.

“Just as within the earth are found every kind of seed and within the sky live all the stars, Tulsidas knows that Shri Rama’s holy name is the reservoir of all dharma.” (Dohavali, 29)

PortraitIf you have the holy name of the Lord, you will automatically have dharma, or religiosity. Chant the sacred maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and don’t worry so much about being religious. The holy name is all you need to find enlightenment, freedom from constant distress, and release from the painful cycle of birth and death. The holy name and a deep love and affection for it satisfy the emotional needs of the individual as well.

The secret to the holy name is that it directly represents the Supreme Personality. Wherever He stands, He is complete in Himself. In His avatara of Lord Rama, He is compared to the beautiful moon, as His glowing visage gives light to a world otherwise filled with darkness. Wherever He goes, He stands out, showing that He is not an ordinary person. The same goes for His younger brother Lakshmana, who is the servitor god, essentially on an equal level with Rama.

The brothers once made their way to the kingdom of Janakpur. They were escorting Vishvamitra Muni through the forests because he was being attacked by night-rangers of mighty strength and cunning tactics. They wouldn’t attack during open conflict, nor would they only fight their own kind. They attacked renounced hermits of all people, and after attacking they would eat their flesh. Rama and Lakshmana, two sons of King Dasharatha, were called on for protection. Though they were both young at the time, due to their divine natures there was no one who could defeat them.

Keeping in that line, they entered King Janaka’s land, where a sacrifice was taking place. The pious king had invited the famous princes from around the world to attempt to lift Lord Shiva’s bow, which was very heavy. Rama and Lakshmana weren’t specifically invited, because they weren’t home at the time. Rama was the eldest son, and as He was unmarried only He was a candidate for participating in the contest. When Janaka saw Rama, he remembered his vow and started to worry. What if Rama couldn’t lift the bow? He was perfect for his daughter Sita, so it would be such a shame if another man lifted the bow. Worse, if Rama failed then He would not be eligible to marry Sita.

Rama and LakshmanaEnchanted by their beauty, Janaka gave the brothers nice thrones to sit on. Vishvamitra was also given a throne. This assembly was quite large, as no one could count how many guests were there. Yet Goswami Tulsidas, in the verse from his Janaki Mangala quoted above, likens Rama and Lakshmana to moons from the autumn season. The rest of the kings assembled represented the other stars in the night sky of the Sharada Purnima. They may have been very bright also, but compared to Rama and Lakshmana they couldn’t be noticed.

The Sharada Purnima is also quite auspicious, as it occurs at the end of the harvest season. It was during this particular full moon that Lord Krishna danced with the gopis in the pastime known as the rasa-lila. Shri Krishna is the same Rama but in His two-handed form of an attractive youth who plays on the flute and delights the residents of Vrajabhumi. The gopis are the topmost transcendentalists, for they love Krishna without motivation and without interruption. They renounce ties to family and society in favor of Krishna’s protection. Their only desire is to love Him, and dancing facilitates that desire very nicely.

Since the gopis are married they can only rendezvous with Krishna at night. Of course the drawback with this is that the night is quite dark. It does help in the sense that it keeps their cover, but at the same time seeing their beloved Krishna becomes more difficult. In the full moon night in the autumn season, the light from the moon is so bright that Krishna can be seen without a problem. Therefore it is quite conducive to dancing with the Lord. Krishna is so kind that He will not deny the heartfelt requests of the sincerest devotees. Though the gopis are many in number, Krishna dances with each one individually by expanding Himself.

The brightness of the Sharada Purnima thus creates conditions auspicious for bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. We can just imagine then what the residents of Janakpur were thinking. Here were two bright moons giving light to the largest crowd on earth. They were quiet and well-behaved young boys, without any trace of haughtiness or pride. They followed the command of the spiritual master Vishvamitra, and they were not looking to defeat anyone at the time. But God’s resplendence from His personal self cannot be hidden. Perhaps in the material world those divine qualities are covered from the eyes due to the feverish pursuit for material fame and opulence, but when directly in Bhagavan’s presence His personal features are noticeable.

The stars brighten the earth in the night, and in the same way Rama and Lakshmana brightened the assembly in Janakpur. The many residents looking on were hopeful of Rama’s triumph. They wanted Him to marry Sita very badly. Janaka’s daughter was the emblem of virtue, and her beauty matched Rama’s. Lakshmi Devi is also worshiped during the Sharada Purnima, for she is the goddess of fortune. Just as Rama is the same Krishna or Vishnu, Sita is the same Lakshmi appearing on earth to give delight to her husband Shri Rama.

What would happen? Would the brightness of the morning steal the splendor of the autumnal moons sitting on their thrones? Rama’s brightness never dissipates and His fame would extend throughout the three worlds after He would lift and break Shiva’s bow. He was not called to the assembly specifically, but through Vishvamitra’s influence and King Janaka’s pious nature, the Lord would fulfill the destiny set forth by the celestials and win Sita’s hand in marriage. The couple is always together, but on that particular occasion the anticipation and fear over potential separation enhanced the experience for the onlookers.

Sita and RamaWhat if Rama hadn’t won? What if Sita had to marry someone else? King Janaka would have been vilified by the residents for his vow, for his rules would have prevented the bright moon that was Rama from joining the family. But just as Rama’s name is complete, His personal self fulfills all the desires of His devotees. Just as the gopis desired Krishna’s association through dance during the rasa-lila, the observers cherishing Rama and Lakshmana’s personal brightness hoped for Sita to wed the eldest son of King Dasharatha. God is not known for denying requests that relate to His personal association. His triumphs are also guaranteed, but the devotees nevertheless pray for them to occur.

After Rama lifted Shiva’s bow, the worship did not stop. The people fortunate enough to be there that day kept that sweet vision within their minds, and saints like Tulsidas immortalized that moment by describing it in song. As the Sharada Purnima is already a noted event every year on the Hindu calendar, the next time it occurs the scene from Janaka’s court can be remembered immediately. The two bright sons of King Dasharatha would make the Raghu clan proud with their presence in Janakpur, and through their travels they would eventually rid the world of the wickedest night-ranger, the king of Lanka. Their brightness can never be defeated, and so anyone who chants the Lord’s holy names, having full reliance on that chanting, will never be left out in the dark.

In Closing:

Sharada Purnima such a wonderful sight,

Amidst stars, the full moon stands bright.


During this time gopis of Vrindavana took the chance,

For rendezvous with Krishna, to enjoy rasa dance.


Rama and Lakshmana were compared to this moon,

When arrived in Janakpur, to eyes a terrific boon.


Janaka and others then remembered his vow,

Afraid that Rama might not lift the bow now.


Never fear, brightness of God never to dissipate,

Lifting bow, marrying Sita, Rama fears to eliminate.

Friday, June 29, 2012

What To Do Today

Worshiping Radha and Krishna“The functions of the mind are thinking, feeling and willing. When the mind is materialistic, or absorbed in material contact, it acts for material advancement of knowledge, destructively ending in discovery of nuclear weapons. But when the mind acts under spiritual urge, it acts wonderfully for going back home, back to Godhead, for life in complete bliss and eternity. Therefore the mind has to be manipulated by good and unalloyed intelligence.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.2.16 Purport)

The human being, aided by the faculties of the mind, is capable of amazing things. Forgetfulness prevents the regular cognizance of this fact, but there is no doubting the creative and perseverant nature of the human worker, for the many inventions and structures filling the cities and populated areas today show us just what hard work combined with imagination can accomplish. There are the brief periods of rest required in each day, where the desire is to do nothing, but the remaining time is spent in work. The question then remains what to do with that time, how to utilize the human being’s effort.

Without guidance from proper intelligence, the effort is likely wasted. This is not a blanket criticism on the human being, for without knowing the proper course, how is anyone to figure out what to do and in which direction to go? Think of children playing in a sandbox and riding their small, toy tricycles. They don’t know any better, so to them such play is constructive. Perhaps they sharpen their motor skills along the way, but nothing tangible is produced. In fact, the adult playing with their large toys in the form of electronic cars and videogame systems is no different than the child playing with their less capable toys.

But with maturation into adulthood, the play can turn dangerous and even deadly. As Shri Ramachandra, the eldest son of King Dasharatha, so nicely says in the Ramayana, for the mature human being there is no other fear than death. The predicament is likened to that of the ripened fruit, which hangs off the tree just waiting to fall. It has met its destiny. It reaches a point where it no longer has to grow, and whoever eats it will enjoy the taste. It still hangs on the tree, so it either remains there or just falls off, which in either case is the same fate.

“Just as the ripened fruit has no other fear than falling, the man who has taken birth has no other fear than death.” (Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 105.17)

apple treeThe mature human being, through recognizing patterns which previously occurred, realizes that death is imminent, so a natural instinct is to turn to protection. “How do I protect this life that is soon to end? How do I keep my possessions for as long as I can?” The nation represents the sum collection of these fears in a larger geographical area. Therefore, to pay full attention to protection, a martial force is assembled, and perhaps a stronger military is trained to be ready at the next call. Defense is natural for the human being, for not everyone will be nice. There are people who don’t give attention to the rules of propriety, so they will lie, cheat and steal to get what they want. In the process they may use violence and not feel any remorse. The owners of the targeted property have every reason to worry about protecting what they have.

That same human mind that played with toys during childhood can in adulthood spend so much time crafting the greatest defense weapon: the nuclear bomb. Rather than a shield or a protective layer, the defense aspect of this weapon is in its destruction capability, which is to act as a deterrent. “Don’t you dare attack me, or I’ll drop this weapon on you and wipe you out.” The weapon has no other use. It is a weapon of mass destruction because within a few moments entire cities can be devastated. As it acts using chemicals already found in nature, we can understand that the human mind had to discover and exploit these reactions. Research, observation and experiment were required before the final product was delivered. Then, the output to that work, the pride and joy of the scientist, was the visual destruction their profound weapon caused.

Such work is not considered truly valuable according to the Vedic seers, who know the true mission of life. The mature human being is certainly destined to die, so overemphasis on protection of possessions is not the best course of action. The spirit soul is the vital force within, and it never suffers death. Throughout the known lifetime the spirit soul remains the same inside of the body that is ever-changing. At the time of death, the entire covering is replaced in favor of a new one, with the exact makeup of the new home determined by one’s previous desires. “As you sow so shall you reap”, is the saying, and it nicely describes the system of karma. You do some work and you get the result later on. If you build a housing structure properly, you’ll get a suitable home to live in. If you build it improperly, you’ll have trouble eventually. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but at some point in the future that defect in the construction will lead to a negative result.

The same mind that created the nuclear weapon for the purpose of defending bodies and possessions guaranteed to leave the individual at the time of death can be used for travelling back to the spiritual kingdom, where the owner of all the material elements personally controls everything for the population’s favor. In the phenomenal land, His influence is still present, but He has no direct dealings with the nature. Think of a pile of clay that can be shaped and molded into anything. The clay has a creator, who determined its properties to make it useful to the end users. But at the same time, the owner does not give orders on how their clay is to be used. You can make a drinking cup out of the clay or you can make a weapon used to strike other people.

In the material world, the sum collection of elements is a byproduct of the supreme master’s creative abilities, and He actually does give a guidebook on how to use those elements. The directions aren’t overly specific nor are they restrictive. The general guiding principle is what counts, with the end-goal remaining the most important factor. The primary aim is to return to the spiritual land, which requires a shift in consciousness. Consciousness is shaped by thinking and working, which are influenced by the outside elements, those things with which the senses interact. Therefore, if you can use sense interaction properly, you create a chain reaction that fulfills the purpose of purifying consciousness.

“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.34)

Lord KrishnaIn a nutshell, you need to think about God. To think about Him, you need to apply your work towards connecting with Him, to remaining cognizant of His greatness and His mercy. To apply your work properly, you get the guidance from shastra, or scripture, which is explained properly by the bona fide teacher, the spiritual master. These shouldn’t be foreign concepts, as to be successful in any venture requires the same deference to written literature and the experts on those teachings. The creation of the nuclear bomb required reference to previous scientific research along with field tests taught by scientists to the students during the schooling years.

In the discipline to understand God, the scriptures for consultation are the Vedas, whose most concise and complete work is the Bhagavad-gita. The field work is the discipline of bhakti-yoga, which gets its strength from the holy name, a sacred sound vibration that directly represents the Supreme Lord. Learn the Bhagavad-gita from someone who follows its principles, and then practice bhakti-yoga by always chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

When effort in materialism is expended, the sign of success is the end product. The bomb that blasts and destroys a large area of land can be considered a properly functioning unit. The work is worth it because there is a visible result. In bhakti, though the promise is for residence in the spiritual sky after death, there are still tangible results that are seen within the present lifetime. Mercifulness, austerity, cleanliness and honesty are the initial beneficial attributes, which any person would be better off for having. Then there is the reinvigorated spirit, wherein instead of searching for an end to work and a period of complete rest known as retirement, there is the desire to search for more and more ways to practice the discipline. This is how love should operate but only does when there is connection to the divine, or yoga.

“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 7.8)

Thinking, feeling and willing can be used to find complete bliss that is permanent. Through connecting with the holy name, which represents the speaker of the Gita and the author of everything good in this world, one can find periods of happiness within the present lifetime, and through continuing in that mode, when the consciousness remains pure at the time of death release from the cycle of birth and death is guaranteed. Why spend time creating a weapon that tries to imitate what the material elements can already do on a larger scale? Real intelligence fixes on transcendence, and thankfully that intelligence can be acquired through the proper training provided by shastra and guru.

In Closing:

With help of mind, man has amazing ability,

New inventions give evidence of this capability.


Mind can be used for atomic bomb’s construction,

Largest toy is this weapon of mass destruction.


But the soul has higher purpose to fulfill,

Not to play, work hard, or just sit still.


To know God is man’s ideal aim,

Rise to spiritual kingdom highest gain.


To law codes and their teachers give attention,

Chant holy names for spiritual ascension.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Moonlike Face

Sita Devi“If that devi, who has a face that resembles the lord of stars, the moon, still lives, then certainly she will come to this river of auspicious water.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.51)

yadi jivati sā devī tārā adhipa nibha ānanā |
āgamiṣyati sā avaśyam imām śiva jalām nadīm ||

Here it is said that Sita Devi, the wife of Lord Rama, has a face that resembles the moon. The moon is considered the best star, the king or lord of the many stars that illuminate the night sky. The comparison is apt for Sita, as from her fair complexion her face is very soothing to the eyes. With its contrast to the darkness the moon stands out, and in this area of darkness known as the city of Lanka, Sita too would be noticeable by her virtuous qualities, which were ever so dear to her husband.

Shri Rama, the eldest son of the King of Ayodhya, was looking for Sita, who went missing while the couple was residing in the forest of Dandaka. Rama too was often compared to the moon, for His effulgence was comforting to the souls surrendered unto Him. In the Vedic tradition, the highest system of religion, or regulative practice for that matter, is known as bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. The English translation pretty much explains how the process works. There is devotion and there is service, and combined together they are directed at the Supreme Lord.

To take up that service as one’s primary occupation in life, it helps to know about the features of the object of service. Therefore some of God’s limitless glories are spoken of in the Vedic texts. The abstract concept of a Divine Being is also touched upon, as that feature is described to be an impersonal energy known as Brahman. Brahman exists regardless of one’s cognizance of it. Indeed, if you gathered everything in the universe and assembled it together, you’d essentially have Brahman. Whether you call it Brahman or something else, that complete aggregate exists nonetheless.

Lord Rama is the intelligence behind the impersonal force. Think of Him as the greatest living being. He has no beginning and no end. He has unlimited forms, or ananta rupam. Rama is God’s divine manifestation as a warrior prince, and from Rama you ascend up to Lord Vishnu. If you go further, you get to Lord Krishna. These beings are the personal aspects of the Supreme Spirit, and they are superior to Brahman because they allow for interaction.

When you boil it down, life is about working. Somehow or other, you have to do something. If you choose to sit around and do nothing but watch television, you are still acting. If you sit in quiet meditation in a remote forest, there is still some work going on. There is constant unhappiness and turmoil because the proper work is difficult to find. We think that it is one set of procedures, but shortly thereafter, boredom results. And so we try something else, only to continue on in the cycle.

Devotional service is the right kind of work. You can tell this based on the influence the work has on your consciousness. Bhakti-yoga can also be translated to mean “Krishna consciousness”, wherein Krishna is synonymous with God. If your consciousness is focused on the divine realm, then the work you do will not be boring. In fact, in bhakti the work is so invigorating that you look for new ways to serve. This is not done to avoid boredom, but rather to quell doubts pertaining to whether or not the object of service is receiving pleasure.

In reality, just the attempt itself is enough to put a smile on Rama’s face, which is moonlike. He is also known as Ramachandra because of this feature. To see how devotional service is supposed to look, we are given the examples of close associates like Sita Devi, Ramachandra’s beloved wife. She serves Him without fail, always thinking of Him in a mood of love. Sometimes she goes against Rama’s wishes because she knows that her preferred course of action will be better suited for Him.

Contrast this with the deviation from the divine will that we concoct on our own. We follow sinful behaviors like meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex because we think that pleasure will follow. That these are restricted, or at least limited, in a civilized society is mistakenly seen as a hindrance on the opportunity to enjoy life. That voluntary deviation from the righteous path is detrimental to ourselves in the end, and it keeps us further away from pleasing God, which is actually the best way to feel real pleasure.

Sita and RamaIn Sita’s case, when she kindly goes against the wishes of her husband, her guiding principle is His pleasure. For instance, Rama once asked her to stay at home for fourteen years while He served out an exile punishment. Sita could have listened, but she decided that Rama’s opinion was not correct. He was overly concerned with her welfare, while she was not going to let Him suffer in the forest alone. Who cares what He thought, she was going with Him. The same wonderful defiance was exhibited by the gopis of Vrindavana in their dealings with Krishna. The lord of the life breath of Shrimati Radharani tried many times to dissuade the gopis from loving Him, but they didn’t bother with His requests, for what would a life devoid of devotional service be to them?

It shouldn’t surprise us then that others who are serving the Supreme Lord would anxiously anticipate a meeting with an exalted servant like Sita. What better way to practice devotion than to see someone else who is an expert at it? Communion with the saints is beneficial for this very reason, as just meeting a saint can do so much for purifying consciousness. Theoretically understanding the need to devote your life to God is easy, but practically implementing the principles is more difficult, especially when many lifetimes have been spent developing bad habits and forming attachments to the temporary world of maya.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman, who was in Lanka looking for Sita, goes over some of her qualities in trying to predict where he might find her. The devoted Vanara was inside a grove of Ashoka trees situated next to the palace of the King of Lanka, Ravana, who was the fiend who had taken Sita back to his kingdom through a backhanded plot; though he could not win her over. She stayed in this Ashoka grove, but Hanuman didn’t know that for sure. He had searched through all of Lanka thus far without any success.

This area was quite pristine, however. The water in this nearby river was auspicious, and so Sita would likely visit it to take water to be used for religious rituals. Sita was pious in every way, though she had no extra reason to be. She was already married to Rama, so her primary duty was to please her husband. Yet her husband paid special attention to dharma, or religiosity, because of His standing as a king’s son. Thus Sita held the same respect for religious principles, and she also grew up as the daughter of the virtuous King Janaka of Mithila.

Shri HanumanHanuman assumed that Sita would be coming his way, to this nearby river, bringing her moonlike face to brighten up his mind, which was just previously in the darkness of despair due to not having succeeded in the mission. Perched on a tree looking down at this nice area, Hanuman was convinced that Sita would arrive. Though he would see her in a slightly different area inside of this grove, his review of Sita’s qualities is nonetheless noteworthy. She is a goddess, and her beautiful face is an ideal match to the lord of stars. She is the best of queens, and so she is the only suitable wife for the king of kings, Shri Rama.

In Closing:

When darkness takes away sight at night,

Depend on the moon shining so bright.


The thickness of the darkness no longer to matter,

As light to come from the rays the moon scatters.


Sita Devi’s face bright in the same way,

Shines light whether night or day.


Hanuman eager to see that brightness,

As devotion to God her true greatness.


Eventually her vision Hanuman to witness,

Ready he was to please Rama with eagerness.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The World Revolves Around Me

Krishna showing the universal form“Whatever you wish to see can be seen all at once in this body. This universal form can show you all that you now desire, as well as whatever you may desire in the future. Everything is here completely.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.7)

To think that the world revolves around you is not very wise, but to avoid it is very difficult. The same routine that you have right now, the same worldview and perspective that you keep in your day-today affairs, existed prior to your time with others. Just as you marvel at the birth of your first child, your parents did so as well when their first child was born. As you ponder over the meaning of life and worry over the future, others pondered the same dilemmas, sometimes hundreds of years prior to you. The more you can break away from the false notion that everything only happens because you are present, the wiser you will be. Expanding this vision out to the largest scale is one way to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is not a sectarian figure nor a figment of the imagination.

Is all the stuff in the world unreal? Is it mythology to believe that there is a giant cosmos, which consists of all the planets, species, elements, and the sun? Is it a dogmatic principle to believe that the individual is puny in comparison to not only the sum collection of other individuals but the creation itself? This gigantic, abstract image that automatically incorporates every nuance and detail imaginable exists for real, though it is difficult for us to perceive.

The desire to go where eagles dare helps in some ways to acquire the broader perspective. We have images from outer space available today because of advancements in technology, the relatively new study of aerospace engineering. The aviation buffs and the “geeky” rocket scientists found ways to manipulate the material elements so that they could put man into outer space, allowing him to soar to new heights. From that distance they could see the earth as a whole and the vast outer space that it remains a small part of.

The earth from outer spaceFrom the pictures from outer space, one can realize that they are not that important in the grand scheme, that they can’t manipulate much of the material energy. Surely man can discover new things, and going forward there are many more things to discover, but still nothing can be done to create a planet. That planet doesn’t even have to be the size of the earth or the moon. Just take one small particle of dust if you like and keep it floating in the same orbit in perpetuity. Let it revolve and rotate, and don’t provide it any outside source of energy.

Of course it is impossible for man to do this, and yet even with the vision acquired from outer space there is little humbling of the ego. If there is an acknowledgment of a higher power, there is assuredness that life is meant to be enjoyed, that the material elements should be manipulated for one’s own personal satisfaction. “After all, studying science and doing experiments got man into outer space, so perhaps with more work he can go even beyond, finding new ways to enjoy the experience that is life.”

But is this really enjoyment? The birds already fly high into the sky without the help of scientists. They know nothing of glide ratios, yet they can go pretty much wherever they want via the aerial path. The eagle can see something miles away perfectly, and the vultures have no problem feasting on carcasses. Thus where is the advancement of the human being when it takes them so much effort, years of research and experiment in fact, just to artificially imitate the birds?

The real meaning to life is to understand God. This is the point stressed by the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India. “Well, what is God? Seems like an abstract concept, so perhaps I can make up my own God, as there are competing visions with the different religions anyway. Who’s to say that aviation and science won’t please the Supreme Lord? We are His children, so shouldn’t He want us to enjoy.”

Though devotion is certainly stressed in the Vedic literatures, as the personal aspect of the Supreme Lord is what brings sweetness in association that ignites a fire of service that never dies within the individual, the scientific basis for spirituality is also presented. The human beings are not the only sons and daughters on the earth; all creatures come from God. The enjoyment is already sanctioned with birth, but at the same time that enjoyment is illusory. It is temporary and coupled with so much misery. The animals also eat, sleep, mate and defend, so should we, as a more intelligent species, follow suit, taking those behaviors to be the summit of existence?

The spirit soul evolves through the different species to reach a point where it can learn about God. From that understanding there is a higher pursuit, a push to achieve the association of the Divine so that pleasure can increase. If one is not so inclined to understand the personal aspects to the Supreme Lord, mistaking their descriptions to be dogmatic or sectarian, then one can still understand the universal form. That vision exists for real, though we can’t see it. But to begin to understand it, we have to break out of the vision that the world revolves around us. This is a wise course regardless, as the more we understand the nature around us, the better suited we will be to deal with others, to follow pious behavior, and to establish a good relationship with our fellow man. Only the lowest among men, who imitate the jackals in their behavior, think that their needs are of utmost concern and that whatever others desire should be cast aside. This is considered foolish thinking because every person has a right to pursue the same enjoyment, to live a vibrant and worthwhile life.

“But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give to you divine eyes by which you can behold My mystic opulence.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.8)

Lord Krishna showing universal formThe universal manifestation is one way to think of God, but actually seeing and appreciating it are difficult through one’s mental effort alone. Therefore God, who is a person at heart, kindly discloses that universal form, the virat-rupa, to a few fortunate individuals. What they see is then recorded in the Vedic scriptures, to be recreated for the listener sincerely interested in finding out the meaning to life. Arjuna saw the virat-rupa on the battlefield of Kurukshetra after having received sublime words of wisdom from Shri Krishna, the original form of the Supreme Lord. The same Krishna previously showed a version of that universal form to mother Yashoda in Vrindavana.

“How do I worship that universal manifestation? How do I worship God once I start to appreciate His creation?” The understanding of that vision naturally gives rise to humility, the release of feelings of pride and ego. As it is easy to get distracted with one’s personal affairs and thus think oneself to be the sole determining factor of personal fortunes, that shedding of ego is vital to a fruitful existence. The life is deemed perfect when at the time of death thoughts focus on the Supreme Lord. If that vision of the Supreme Godhead is of His universal form, which is a kind of impersonal aspect, then there is still a spiritual existence in the next life, but one lacking personal association of the divine.

If, on the other hand, the consciousness is fixed on the Supreme Person and His wonderful attributes, then the next residence is in a place where His association is available constantly. The same pursuit of enjoyment exists with that birth, except the results are permanent and blissful. The root cause of the shift is the inherent difference in desires. Rather than try to enjoy without God, who is the proprietor of every land, the devoted souls seek to please Krishna at every step, to see to it that He is happily engaged with His dearest servants, who can assume many different roles in this sacred land.

“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.5)

The belief in the deliverance at the time of death for the Krishna conscious soul certainly requires some faith to be extended in the beginning, but then again Krishna has earned that faith based on the perfect teachings He presents in works like the Bhagavad-gita. He is so kind that if you should choose not to worship Him, He still gives you information of the universal form, which can be conceptualized right now, by every single person, regardless of their religious persuasion. Know that there is a sum collection of stuff in this world, and when sections of that stuff are used for finding the spiritual kingdom, the time on earth goes well spent.

In Closing:

“Everything around, including sun and moon too,

Revolves around me, everything that I do.”


When by pictures from outer space be awed,

Know that your former understanding seriously flawed.


Without you everything else still to move on,

In past people same issues dwelt upon.


If towards spirituality you are not so inclined,

At least you can keep universal vision in mind.


To His devotees Krishna better engagement gives,

In His company devoted souls always live.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Royal Treatment

Vishvamitra and Lakshmana in Janaka's assembly“Hearing Vishvamitra compliment the beautiful arrangements, the king became happy. Then, he offered beautiful thrones for Rama, Lakshmana and the muni to sit on.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 6.2)

kausika sarāhī rūcira racanā janaka suni haraṣita bhae |
taba rāma lakhana sameta muni kaham̐ subhaga siṃhāsana dae ||

The lion is the recognized king of the jungle, as it can even scare away the larger elephant. Its roar is so mighty that just upon hearing it the inferior animals run away. As the most powerful person in the jungle is a kind of ruler, many aspects of a ruler are likened to the leader of the jungle. The king is a lion in the sense that whatever he says goes. In ancient times he was the most powerful fighter, and thus he could protect his citizens from foreign attack. In Sanskrit, the king’s sitting place is described as a simha-asana, or lion-seat. Today this is better known as a throne, but the reference to the lion is still there, as you will see images of lions on the corners of the throne. Many thousands of years ago, King Janaka, the lion of the kingdom of Videha, offered such nice thrones to three exalted guests, who weren’t even specifically invited.

Why was it notable that they weren’t given specific invitations? This wasn’t an ordinary event. King Janaka was marrying off his lovely daughter Sita, who is the goddess of fortune. The marriage ceremony was a contest, where the winner would have to lift Lord Shiva’s bow. First come, first serve. Whoever would first lift the bow would win, ending the contest immediately. Two guests in particular were notable figures, but since they were away from home they didn’t receive the personal invitation that had gone out to all the kings of the world. Nevertheless, Janaka learned who the two were very quickly by talking to their leader. Once knowing that information, he did not fail to honor them properly.

Vishvamitra with Rama and LakshmanaThe leader was Vishvamitra, who actually called the forest his home. He was a brahmana, or a member of the priestly class, so he wasn’t in Videha for the contest. With him, however, were two handsome youths, both of age suitable for marriage. As the younger was a devoted soul who would never do anything to dishonor his beloved brother, only the elder was eligible for participating in the contest. Before he knew who they were, Janaka was enamored by them. He had never seen such beauty before. Perhaps Lord Brahma, the creator, made their bodies first and then used whatever materials he had left over to make the rest of the creation, including its beautiful natural wonders.

Janaka had previously experienced brahmasukha, the happiness of realizing the impersonal feature of the Supreme Lord known as Brahman. Yet from seeing the elder brother, Janaka felt a happiness hundreds of times greater than that. Vishvamitra then informed Janaka that these two boys were descendants of King Raghu, jewels of their line. The elder, the delight of Maharaja Dasharatha, was the leader of his four brothers. Named Rama, He was loved and adored by the younger brother Lakshmana. The two were roaming the forests with Vishvamitra to annihilate the enemies of the demigods.

A demigod is a sort of saintly character who can provide marginal benefits to a devotee. Likened to a cabinet member or administrative department head, a demigod works at the direction of the Supreme Lord, who is known as Vishnu or Krishna in the Vedic tradition. The royal order has the duty to protect the innocent people of the world and defend them against the attacks of the enemies of the demigods. The more powerful enemies can put up a good fight against the exalted heavenly figures. In those situations, Vishnu Himself arrives on the scene to offer protection, as He did in His incarnation of Lord Rama.

Once he learned more about Rama, Janaka remembered his oath. He had sworn to give away Sita to whoever could lift Lord Shiva’s extremely heavy bow. But now there was a problem. He wanted Sita to marry Rama, this beautiful youth who was so strong and brave that Vishvamitra used him for protection. Lakshmana was not eligible for the contest because a younger brother didn’t marry before an older one did. What if Rama couldn’t lift the bow? What would Janaka do? He never wanted to lose sight of this beautiful youth, who had captured his heart already.

Janaka shook off his fear over the contest and put on a good face. He gave the trio a tour of the svayamvara grounds, which he had elaborately arranged. The entire place was beautiful, as it hosted all the kings of the world. Janaka was famous for his chivalry, and thus his daughter garnered much attention. To receive a beautiful, chaste and devoted wife is considered a great blessing not only to the groom but also to his family. A good wife can make up for all the shortcomings of the husband, and through her support the husband and his family can stay dedicated to the righteous path and meet auspiciousness at the end of life.

While giving the tour, Vishvamitra complimented Janaka on his work. This made the king feel very happy. What happened next is quite significant. In the Vedic tradition, those not personally in the presence of the Supreme Lord are given a variety of tools to use in their worship. Just because you’re not in a church or temple doesn’t mean that you should forget about God, who is the reservoir of pleasure. To facilitate proper worship in any area, there is the tradition of deity worship. The deity is the signature representation of the Supreme Lord in a form that is worshipable and honorable. Proper worship of the deity is as good as offering obeisances personally to the Supreme Lord.

Sita and Rama deitiesDeity worship can be simple and it can also be quite elaborate. In the larger temples, the carved statues are offered thrones to sit on. This way the worshiper can look at God the proper way. Without a developed consciousness focused on bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, looking at God as an equal is not a good thing. If the worshipable object is on the same level as us, what good is worshiping them? We treat our friends differently than we do our elders. We make jokes with our friends and we never let them win an argument, for they are our equals after all. The offering of the throne is a nice gesture, as it shows the respect needed for understanding God in the beginning stages.

Along with the throne, there are opulent decorations and regular offerings of prepared food items, flowers, water, incense, lamps and other authorized paraphernalia. The pattern should be quite easy to recognize by now. Pretend that the deity is the actual person it depicts. In other circumstances, this sort of imitation doesn’t actually affect the worshiped figure. You may worship a picture or statue of someone else, but they have no way of knowing what you are doing. There is a difference with God, however. His deity is identical to Him. It is an authorized form that accepts the obeisances of the sincere souls who approach Him in a mood of love and devotion. The conditioned living entity doesn’t have the eyes to see God right away, though His presence is everywhere. The mercy of the deity accounts for that deficiency and thus allows anyone to make progress in their worship.

Janaka offered Rama, Lakshmana and Vishvamitra thrones to sit on, so in a sense he did deity worship in person. Rama and Lakshmana were junior to him, but Janaka used the pretense of hospitality to worship them properly. Vishvamitra was a member of the brahmana community, whose advice and consent can grant any benediction in life. It was through the advice of the brahmanas that Janaka initially settled upon the idea of a svayamvara, or self-choice ceremony. Now that decision was bearing fruit, with Rama and Lakshmana seated on thrones in his kingdom. Janakpur turned into a temple that day, and the deity of Rama seated on the throne would be so pleased that He would return the favor by getting up and easily lifting Shiva’s bow. The jewel of the Raghu dynasty fulfilled destiny and alleviated Janaka’s fears. Keeping that same husband of Janaki seated on the throne of your heart, worship Him daily and He will never leave your sight.

In Closing:

Of the jungle the lion is the king,

Terror just from his roar he can bring.


In same way ruler enemies can defeat,

Thus lion’s symbols adorn his seat.


Simhasanas, thrones presented to his guests,

In hospitality Janaka always offered the best.


In human form Rama and Lakshmana their lordships,

Thus with his offerings king did wonderful worship.


Shri Rama with Janaka then always to stay,

By lifting bow and winning contest that day.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Living On Very Little

Sanatana Gosvami“Great sages and saints in the days of yore were not living in palatial buildings furnished with good furniture and so-called amenities of life. They used to live in huts and groves and sit on the flat ground, and yet they have left immense treasures of high knowledge with all perfection. Shrila Rupa Gosvami and Shrila Sanatana Gosvami were high-ranking ministers of state, but they were able to leave behind them immense writings on transcendental knowledge, while residing only for one night underneath one tree.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.2.4 Purport)

The human spirit can do amazing things on very little. This is opposite of how we normally think things work, for as soon as we acquire a new possession, shortly thereafter we feel like we can’t live without it. The only perceived way to improve on the situation is to grab the latest revision to the same object, the more advanced version that has enhanced capability. This acceptance and rejection followed by more acceptance continues all the way up until the end of life, with the real potential for action unfortunately left untouched. But from the example of exalted saints from the past we see that not only can the human being survive on very little, within that renounced spirit he can develop the highest state of mental maturation, sharing that enlightenment with not only the people of the time but countless future generations as well.

At the outset, we think we require a large residential establishment. This follows the union of a man and a woman. Based on mutual attraction, the man and the woman meet and establish a relationship. In transcendental circles the attraction is considered based on maya, or illusion, because the bodily features are known to change. I may be attracted to someone of the opposite sex today, but I know that over the course of time their attractiveness will fade, as every single body goes through the cycle of birth, old age, disease and death. Therefore to base all of my important decisions in the immediate future solely on that attraction is not very wise. We see the negative consequences to this shortsightedness in the form of divorce, broken families, and illicit sexual affairs that lead to so many other problems.

Attraction to the skin can only do so much, so to maintain the relationship a nice home is required. The car is the next needed object, along with nice clothes and the ability to feed yourself and your guests. The support system for all of this, of course, is work. Therefore the majority of the time each week is spent in hard labor, likely doing work that you don’t enjoy. Even if you follow your childhood dream and take up a vocation that gives you pleasure, the glue holding everything together is profit. Without a profit to the output of your work, your work will not be worthwhile. Thus regardless of the path chosen, eventually you must do some work that you don’t like, even within your dream job.

There are so many examples to show how this works, but we can use a simple one like a rock band. To play music for a living is considered a dream rarely achieved, for people will have to compensate you for your playing if you are to do it fulltime. For that to happen, you need a wide distribution of your music, and for that to take place you need the support of an entity that has already made great inroads within those distribution channels. Hence your new band forms a partnership, and although you try your best to do only what you want, sometimes the record companies, the fans, and the promoters of the concerts compel you to do things that you don’t like. Success within this endeavor can also be the cause of great pain, for as soon as you put out a hit record, people expect your future output to match that. Thus pressure starts to mount, and the same innocence that went into playing music for a living quickly fades.

From the output of work, so many new possessions are acquired, but none of them provide any happiness, for the spirit soul craves the ability to offer service, and these objects are just the opposite in nature; they are meant to serve you. Think of it like the difference between cooking and having someone cook for you. Even the wealthiest person likes to produce things on their own every now and then, so perhaps on occasion they get into the kitchen and spend hours preparing a dish. The satisfaction is the highest when others are offered the resulting preparation for their enjoyment. An outside party could have been hired to produce the same dish, requiring little effort from you, but then there would be no service offered on your part.

In fact, the more you are able to offer this service, the happier you will be. When the object of that service is perfect, when they are capable of accepting an unlimited amount of service from you, staying satisfied with each effort, you can offer your work without interruption and without motivation. This combination does not exist with fruitive ventures, wherein you’re working to support a lifestyle filled with objects of dependence. Indeed, the dream of the family man working hard to maintain his wife and home is retirement, a time when he can live comfortably without having to work.

When it comes to the highest form of service, however, there is no desire for cessation, and there is nothing the object of service can do to stop the outpouring of affection. The less objects of maya there are, the more this unique service can be offered. Hence it is not surprising that vairagya, or renunciation, is a key component in being able to take up this most wonderful vocation. As the focus shifts towards pleasing the reservoir of pleasure, the objects that were once needed are discarded, or at least replaced with simpler versions.

The highest type of service we speak of is known as bhakti-yoga. Bhakti is divine love, a level of affection that cannot be checked by any action of the interlinked party. The divine aspect is necessary because a non-divine being can do things to stop our service. For instance, the paramour can reject our association, act in a mean way towards us, or just physically separate from our association. The children similarly leave the home when they grow up and take up their own life dedicated to supporting a family. With the divine being, however, there is never a question of separation, and His qualities are so wonderful that one never gets tired of glorifying them, of basking in their sweetness.

To practice bhakti-yoga properly, we can consult the keepers of the faith, the people who started and maintained the bhakti tradition in times past. Not only can we consult their direct teachings, but we can learn from their way of life. As an example, the brothers Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami practiced bhakti wonderfully some five hundred years ago in India. They first held high positions in government, so they had all the amenities a royal family would know. They would travel with first class arrangements, and they were not in need of money.

That was how they began their lives, but they finished by living in huts and underneath small trees, moving about constantly. They had simple rags for clothes and subsisted on basic fruits, roots and whatever kind offerings people presented to them. They had little to no wealth; renouncing it at the same time they gave up their government service. They wouldn’t sleep much either, maybe a few hours each night. They did all of this and were still able to survive. Were they miserable? Was this a test along the lines of the television show Survivor? Were they seeking some reward from someone else? Did they just enjoy punishing themselves?

“Who am I? Why do the threefold miseries always give me trouble? If I do not know this, how can I be benefited?”  (Sanatana Gosvami speaking to Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 20.102)

Rupa and Sanatana GosvamiIn actuality, they were never happier. They had the opulent lifestyle of government ministers previously, but they didn’t know what that all meant. What purpose were they fulfilling? Where were they going in life? Was their time to be spent only in eating, sleeping, mating and defending? They were wise enough to ask these questions to the notable divine preacher named Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. They wanted to know who they were and what their purpose in life was. The answers they got were, of course, splendid, as Lord Chaitanya is Krishna Himself, the Supreme Lord, the reservoir of all pleasure.

That renounced environment the two brothers subsequently took up was merely a formality, as the entire time the brothers were involved in direct service to Krishna, especially through writing literature. To write you don’t require much except some peace and quiet to think properly. You also need time, but when you don’t have much to support in terms of a household and family, much of your time is freed up. Yet to remain dedicated to writing so much, you have to enjoy it. Just think then how much the brothers enjoyed writing about God and devotion to Him. They didn’t really care about anything else. The same two souls that were previously in government service were now in devotional service and were loving it. To the outside world they were homeless, but to them they were never wealthier. They got to glorify God, His dearest servants, and the process of devotional service at all times of the day. Their output was not too shabby either. Such a volume of wealth of knowledge was their literature that it still has tremendous relevance today. The same can’t be said of the output of our fruitive work, which will vanish very quickly, losing its importance even during our own lifetime.

The secret known to the Vedic seers is that the spirit soul can do amazing things with very little. With just a devotional consciousness the spirit soul can find the highest state of bliss. Thus there is no question of artificial renunciation or forced restriction from sense objects when operating on the highest platform of devotional service. The spirit soul is meant to serve God, and the more that fact is reinforced and accepted with confidence, the more auspicious the surrounding conditions will be. Though the devotee may have very little on the outside, the internal spark of desire to serve Krishna burns unimaginably bright, serving as the only required component in moving forward with the rest of their time on earth.

In Closing:

You can survive on very little, did you know?

Many possessions not needed, nor bank balance to grow.


Ordinary rags, fruits, and hut that is simple,

From this necessities you will have ample.


But you also require the corresponding spark,

Otherwise will seem like life of torture dark.


From brothers Rupa and Sanatana learn,

Previously high posts in government they earned.


Gave it up and renounced order they took,

So that about God and devotion could write many a book.


Output was wonderfully relevant and voluminous,

Know that devotional path always most glorious.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Befitting Rama’s Wife

Sita and Rama“This beautiful Ashoka grove is certainly befitting the beautiful and cherished wife of Rama, the king of kings.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.50)

tasyāḥ ca api anurūpeyam aśoka vanikā śubhā |
śubhā yā pārthiva indrasya patnī rāmasya sammitā ||

Lord Rama is the king of kings. The word “indra” in Sanskrit is used to denote a king. It can also refer to the lord of celestials, Indradeva, who is in charge of things like rain and thunder. There is some force guiding the movements of nature, for man has no control over when it rains and when it doesn’t. He can likely predict the pattern for the upcoming days using satellite technology, but this is merely observation and not influence. The Vedas provide the names and personality traits of these controllers, who operate under orders from a higher authority. The lord of heaven is considered “indra” because he has the most responsible post, as without rain life could not survive on earth.

The same “indra” word is used to denote the top living entity in a particular occupation. In the above quoted verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman refers to King Dasharatha’s eldest son as the king of kings. In the time period in question, the Treta Yuga, kings got their status from both heredity and ability. A king’s son was treated with respect and honor as he grew up, but he still had to prove his fighting ability to hold on to his status. You need such a fighter, else the society runs the risk of being controlled by rogues and thieves. The violence sometimes used by the protecting warriors seems sinful and unnecessary, but without it there would be no peace. There would be no ability to even criticize the fighting efforts of the martial force were it not for the protection they first provide.

Lord RamaAs the king of kings, Rama was the best fighter. Using just a bow and arrow He could defeat as many enemies as would come His way. One time, He singlehandedly fended off fourteen thousand night-rangers, ghoulish creatures who didn’t fight according to the standard codes of warfare. Think of the terrorist who puts on civilian clothes so that no one will spot them. This isn’t done just for safety. They do it so that they can attack their targeted enemies when they least expect it. These night-rangers were similar in their tactics, almost snake-like in their behavior.

Rama, nevertheless, could defeat them without a problem. When you have such a capable fighter, it is important that their moral standing be very high as well. The same fighting ability could be used to force others into submission, to will everyone into surrendering their possessions and livelihood for the sake of the fighter’s enjoyment. Rama was most remarkable in this area. Though He was the king of kings, the best fighter in the world, He had not a hint of jealousy in Him. He was the most renounced, giving up His rightful claim to the throne of Ayodhya at a young age to fulfill His father’s promise. He deserved every offering of wealth made to Him, but He instead gave all of His possessions away prior to leaving for the forest.

“Rama always gives in charity but never takes any. He always speaks the truth and never tells a lie. O brahmana, this is Rama’s highest vow and He is incapable of deviating from it.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.17)

Though He always gave in charity, He never took any, for that is customary for the fighting kings. Why would Rama need anything when He is self-satisfied? Only those who are uncertain of their standing will constantly require support for their false ego. Rama knew that He was the best fighter, so He didn’t need to prove it. The match against the fourteen thousand night-rangers from Lanka was not His desire. They were sent to attack Rama by the leader of Lanka, Ravana, who was just the opposite in character. He regularly boasted about his fighting prowess, and he needed a sparkling city full of opulence to keep his ego inflated. Yet to fight a man who renounced everything and lived in a small hut in the forest of Dandaka, Ravana had to send thousands of his men. He didn’t go himself, of course, because he would have been defeated.

While a demon by nature and appearance, Ravana thought he deserved to have Rama’s wife. She was already married to the king of kings, but Ravana thought that she should be with him, for why would a princess choose to live in a forest? Ravana took Sita back to Lanka through a ruse, not daring to fight for her with Rama. Now Hanuman was in Lanka to locate that princess, to let her know that her husband was going to find and rescue her. To locate Sita, Hanuman had to dwell upon her qualities. Her standing as Rama’s wife was one of the best features to go by.

Sita and Rama in the forestAs Rama’s wife, Sita too was very renounced. She left the comfortable setting of the kingdom of Ayodhya for life in the forest. She followed her husband. Wherever He would go, she would follow like a shadow. Not a reluctant servant or a prisoner trapped in a marriage system they didn’t like, Sita took the most pleasure in serving Rama. Indeed, she sometimes offered this service against His wishes. In her mind, His judgment was sometimes incorrect. He wanted her to stay in Ayodhya for fourteen years, but she thought that He wasn’t thinking straight. But she knew how to get to Him, how to change His mind.

Sita remembered that Rama’s primary personality trait was His deference to dharma, or virtue. He was the king’s eldest son after all, so if He didn’t uphold virtue, who would? Sita used this trait to her advantage by reminding Rama that the wife’s duty in the Vedic tradition is to follow her husband, to treat him like her primary deity. Indeed, Rama had spoken on this very subject many times prior, for the pious take delight in describing the principles of piety, which serve a vital purpose. The Vedic tenets are not dogmatic or sectarian in their significance. They foster conditions that are conducive for attaining the highest goal, which is the same for every single person.

Sita was famous for her devotion to Rama, who was the best of all kings on earth. So Hanuman knew that in Lanka Sita would fit in where the conditions matched her character. He nevertheless searched the entire city, for who knew what Ravana was capable of. Finally, Hanuman came upon a beautiful grove of Ashoka trees. This spot seemed more suited to Rama’s wife. It was pristine, had flowers in bloom, and had bodies of water ideal for religious observance. Hanuman got a taste of the beauty himself when he jumped from tree to tree. In the process he got covered with flowers, looking to the creatures in that forest like Spring personified.

Shri HanumanHanuman’s hunch would prove to be correct, as Sita was indeed in this Ashoka grove. He would be surprised by her appearance, however. The grove was suitable for her living, but at that time she was barely hanging on to life. Separated from her beloved and uncertain of the future, she was not in a pleasant condition. Nevertheless, her beauty could never totally leave her, and from the auspiciousness of her form, Hanuman could eventually spot her.

Just as the Ashoka grove was befitting the wife of the king of kings, Shri Hanuman is worthy of the post of Rama’s greatest servant. His thought processes within Lanka prove that. To find Sita required both physical and mental dexterity. He was born with a monkey shape, but he used his abilities in mysticism to change shapes and course through areas that were otherwise difficult to pass. But more amazing was his constant connection to both Sita and Rama in thought. This connection is known as yoga, and it is the one practice that leads to the happiness that presently evades us. The gymnastics yoga and the yoga of sitting in quiet meditation are meant to lead to the same end, that of thinking of the Supreme Lord and those dear to Him. Rama is the king of kings on earth, and He is the leader of the divine figures in the spiritual kingdom. Sita is His suitable match in an eternal consort, and thus the couple can be remembered at any time to complete the perfection of yoga. Hanuman is an authority in this practice, and based on his spotless character, there is no doubting the validity of his preferred style of yoga known as bhakti.

In Closing:

Shri Rama is the king of kings,

Safety to dependence He brings.


At defending the innocent He is always reliable,

In Dandaka forest proved His prowess undeniable.


Fourteen thousand terrorist-like demons by Ravana sent,

Anticipating victory, instead to Yamaraja’s abode they went.


Rama’s deference to dharma by wife Sita was matched,

But she went to Lanka through the plot evil Ravana hatched.


To finding her now Shri Hanuman getting near,

To help remembered Shri Rama’s wife so dear.


Befitting queen in Ayodhya had full renunciation,

Thus Hanuman knew pristine Ashoka grove her likely location.