Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tears of Kindness

Sita and Rama“Having reflected for a moment, the powerful Hanuman, with eyes overflowing with tears, lamented over Sita.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 16.2)

sa muhūrtam iva dhyātvā bāṣpa paryākulekṣaṇaḥ |
sītām āśritya tejasvī hanumān vilalāpa ha ||

It is said that when someone is going through a difficult time, the stress on the loved ones who have to watch is greater. This seems rather odd, as the person in difficulty is the direct sufferer of the pain, but for the onlooker, there is nothing they can do but see the visible effect. They are unable to change the situation, so they are actually more helpless. All they can do is watch and hope. And yet to see a loved one distressed over our own pitiable plight is a nice thing, as it is indicative of their affection for us. Even more endearing it is when the person lamenting has never met us, but only heard of us.

A common occasion where loved ones anguish over the plight of another’s suffering through a tough time is the athletic competition. In the Olympics especially the pressure is great. For many of the sports, the final match, the big competition, occurs only once every four years. This increases the pressure on the athletes to compete to their best. In sports like gymnastics and figure skating, the maximum score is often predetermined based on the routine that is mapped out. This means that all the athlete can do is mess up. They are expected to complete their moves to perfection, to follow the course they charted out for themselves.

It is due precisely to this pressure that athletes buckle. One missed jump, one slight hesitation, one large mess up on the biggest stage and you lose your chance at the gold medal. But if you are the one competing, your mind is distracted a bit by the actual exercise. You can concentrate on what you have to do, and you can change your destiny. For your loved ones, however, all they can do is watch. Thus if you make an error, if you fail in the most pressure packed moment, they will feel awful for you. This reaction indicates that they love you very much and that they take your sadness to be their own. Consequently, they also take your happiness to be theirs. If you should emerge victorious, they will feel elation. This kind of sadness and elation can also be found in the sacred Vedic text known as the Ramayana.

The princess of Videha had gone missing. To the people who hear the Ramayana, it is known that the evil King Ravana took her away from the side of her husband Rama. To the participants of this real-life drama, however, it was not known where the princess, Sita, had gone. Rama enlisted the help of a band of forest dwellers. These were monkey-like creatures, not really civilized. What they did possess, however, was an eagerness to serve Rama, the handsome prince of the Raghu dynasty. Rama’s brother Lakshmana had the same dedication to Rama, and he himself admitted that this dedication was due to Rama’s virtuous qualities.

“I am His younger brother, Lakshmana by name. Due to His transcendental qualities, I have taken up service to Him, as He is grateful and very knowledgeable.” (Lakshmana speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 4.12)

The most enthusiastic forest dweller was Hanuman, who was also the chief minister of the king of forest dwellers, Sugriva. Hanuman’s mission was to find Sita. He didn’t know much about her except what was described to him by Rama. She was the prince’s wife, and her notable characteristic was her devotion to her husband. Not a mundane devotion either; this was a level of dedication worthy of the noblest character.

When Hanuman finally did spot Sita, however, he couldn’t believe how dreadful her condition was. If anyone in the world were more virtuous than Rama, it was Sita. She had never done anything wrong. She followed the teachings of her pious parents, and she was a faithful wife in the truest sense of the word. Now she was in a foreign territory, facing the harassment of female ogres day and night. Ravana tried to win her over as a wife, but she vehemently refused him. Her only hope now was to wait for Rama to come and rescue her.

Shri HanumanThe messenger was sent first, and when he saw Sita, he couldn’t help but be overcome by tears. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we see that Hanuman is described as powerful, tejasvi. This adjective is purposefully included here because Hanuman is also said to have eyes overflowing with tears. A powerful warrior should be immune to sobbing over another’s plight, but Hanuman has such a strong affection for Sita that he can’t help it. He sees her condition and takes her pain to be his own. And the amazing thing about all this is that he didn’t know her personally.

From this verse we can understand that both Sita and Hanuman possess transcendental qualities. Her virtues endear her to devoted figures like Hanuman. And Hanuman’s behavior shows his care and concern for both Rama and anyone who serves Him. On this occasion there would be tears and lamentation over Sita’s pitiable condition, but know that Hanuman would succeed in the end. In that victory, the devoted souls, who care so much about Rama’s number one servant, can share in the joy.

Hanuman takes Sita to be like a family member because Rama is so dear to Him. And from the ancient Vedic texts we learn that Rama is an incarnation of God. Sita is the Supreme Lord’s eternal consort, and so Hanuman’s spontaneous affection for them reveals his high standing. By harboring the same concern for Hanuman, by viewing him to be a family member, we can rejoice in his triumphs and glories, which are too many to count. The Ramayana offers up some of them, thereby increasing the fame of the work all the more.

In Closing:

Enduring through struggles is rough,

But for loved ones watching more tough.


I myself can work to change the outcome,

But for others nothing can be done.


To Lanka went Hanuman with devotion instilled,

Upon seeing Sita his eyes with tears were filled.


Kindness shown over another’s plight,

To please Rama onward he would fight.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Staying With Him

Sita and Rama in Hanuman's heart“Having praised Sita, who is praiseworthy, and Rama, who is particularly dear because of His virtues, that foremost among monkeys again began to think.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 16.1)

praśasya tu praśastavyām sītām tām hari pungavaḥ |
guṇa abhirāmam rāmam ca punaḥ cintā paro abhavat ||

Shri Hanuman is known as the greatest devotee of Lord Rama and His eternal consort, Sita Devi. Hanuman is the emblem of devotion to God, and he is always depicted practicing some method of devotion. In some scenes he is chanting the holy names with hand-symbols. In others he is worshiping the deity of Shri Rama, and in others he is engaged in a heroic act in the service of Rama. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, he is simply thinking, and though there is some worry in this moment of inactivity, there is worship nonetheless, giving us valuable insight into the nature of divine love, the highest practice for man.

To worship is not to only show up to a gathering and go through the motions. The consciousness is what indicates our existence. “I think therefore I am,” is the famous realization, and that thinking is a result of the presence of consciousness. The external acts are but a result of thinking, and they shape the way the mind works. The purpose of the house of worship is to instill a consciousness that is focused on transcendence, or that which rises above the dualities of like and dislike, happiness and sadness, and victory and defeat.

The mind can’t be tricked into focusing on transcendence for an extended period of time. It must be convinced that the contemplation is worthwhile, that there is a lasting benefit. Think of jumping up and down in your room all day. You will get some exercise, but what are you really doing with your time? Eventually, you will want to do something else, even though during the period of exercise the mind is somewhat focused.

Hanuman focuses on the attributes of the people he worships, and that focus continues because it is pleasurable. In this particular scene, Hanuman has just finished observing a princess from afar. Based on her attributes, Hanuman has deduced that she is the wife of Lord Rama. Known by the name of Sita because of the circumstances of her birth, she is the woman Hanuman was searching for. He was in this foreign land of Lanka to find Rama’s abducted wife, and this princess from afar had features which matched those that belonged to Sita.

After concluding that the princess was Sita, Hanuman offered her praise within his mind. It is said in the above referenced verse that Sita is praiseworthy; hence it would make sense that Hanuman would offer her praise. She is kind, sweet, virtuous, and dedicated to her husband. She greets everyone with a smile and never knew any enemies in life. Such a person is indeed rare to find, and since she was Rama’s wife, Hanuman was all the more attached to her. Praising her brought him tremendous pleasure, as this is the tendency of the human spirit.

If you watch the Olympics and see an athlete triumph in a particular event, though they are proud of their accomplishment, they will almost always look to praise others, giving thanks to their coaches and family members for all the help they provided. The other athletes also look to praise the champions, to speak of their good qualities. This tendency within man is borne of his constitutional position, that of servant of God. Hanuman follows that service through acting as a messenger, and Sita too follows that service in the role of a devoted wife.

Hanuman also praised Rama, this virtuous woman’s husband. It is said that Rama’s virtues make Him very dear. This is absolutely the case, as Hanuman up until this point had not known Rama for very long. He knew of the Lord’s attributes, however, and those qualities were enough to make Hanuman dedicated to the mission. Rama is also kind, chivalrous, and dedicated to protecting the innocent. He does not speak falsehoods, and He is willing to give anything in charity to the brahmanas, the priestly class. The priests in ancient times did not work for a living, so they relied on charity to survive. The saintly kings like Maharaja Dasharatha, Rama’s father, gave special attention to the brahmanas, ensuring that they were always pleased and able to carry out their religious duties.

Hanuman worshiping RamaHanuman in this instance is continuing in worship of Sita and Rama just by thinking of them. That is the whole purpose to spiritual life after all, and Sita and Rama are famous worshipable figures of the Vedic tradition. There is only one God, but depending on time and circumstance He appears on the scene in different manifestations, though the original version is always a personality, full of divine attributes. Hanuman shows that thinking of God is a means of worship and also a way to derive happiness.

Sita was in front of Hanuman from a distance and Rama was there through His name. The divine couple stayed within Hanuman’s mind because he wanted them there. In a similar manner, by regularly chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, the same divine couple stays with the chanter, allowing for consciousness to be shaped for the better. This chanting includes hearing, which then increases the chances for remembering, which is the mechanism of the mind to worship during times of rest. Hanuman here was on a brief stop before his difficult approach towards the princess who had never met him. But since he had Sita and Rama on the mind, his service would not fail.

In Closing:

Sita Devi is worthy of praise,

In Hanuman’s mind she always stays.


With Shri Rama the same goes,

Of His qualities Hanuman knows.


Because of His virtues Rama is dear,

For the saints He removes their fears.


Praiseworthy wife had husband the best,

Their devotee Hanuman to pass every test.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

When To Approach God

Hanuman worshiping Rama“Thus seeing Sita at that time, the son of the wind God, in great delight, approached Rama in his mind and offered praise unto the Lord.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 15.54)

evam sītām tadā dṛṣṭvā hṛṣṭaḥ pavana sambhavaḥ |
jagāma manasā rāmam praśaśamsa ca tam prabhum ||

When is a good time to approach God? How about when things are good? Or maybe when you have just landed a new job? When your first child is born? How about when times are bad, like when you specifically want something? “Oh please God, give me this one thing. I will never ask for anything ever again. If You grant me this one favor, I will be eternally indebted to You. I promise to pray to You and never forget You going forward.” From the actions of a notable warrior a long time ago, we see that any time is good for approaching the Lord, as through the combination of the right mechanism and the worthwhile target, benefits are sure to abound.

Can there be an improper mechanism? Surely there can. If you want to get an oil change for your car, do you drive up to the supermarket? Or if you’re looking to buy milk and bread, do you drive up to the car repair shop? There are specific areas to get the things that you want. The river has the water and the land the crops, so to go to the wrong places means to not get essential items necessary for the continuation of life.

There are proper mechanisms with worship of the Supreme Lord as well. You can’t just go up to a tree and think that you’re talking to God. You can’t make a statue on a whim, bow down before it, and think that you have found the Almighty. It is practices such as these which degrade real religion, which is defined as sanatana-dharma in the Vedic tradition. Sanatana means without beginning and without end and dharma means an occupational duty. Never at any time does the soul’s inherent duty change.

And what is that occupation? It is service. Service is offered already to so many different entities, and thus we see so many improper mechanisms for practicing dharma. It is not that it is wrong to hold affection for our loved ones, but there is a limitation with such affection. Interaction with paramours and friends can only take us so far, whereas service to the right entity can bring a purified consciousness, which in turn automatically leads to better treatment towards every person that we encounter.

“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)

Consciousness is the proper mechanism, as it stays with us all the time. To have a consciousness means to live, and since consciousness never leaves us, we never cease to be. At the time of death, the subtle elements of mind, intelligence and ego travel with us to a new collection of gross elements, meaning that consciousness travels, like the aromas in the air. It is through consciousness that we can offer service to the Divine, though initially the mechanisms may seem like they have nothing to do with consciousness.

We can take the example of Hanuman to see how this works. A divine warrior in the form of a monkey during an ancient time, Hanuman was tasked with finding the missing princess of Videha. She was stolen away from the side of her husband through a backhanded plot executed by the king of Lanka, Ravana. Hanuman’s service thus comprised physical activity, travelling across the earth to look for someone he had never met. His service was to Shri Rama, the prince of the Raghu dynasty. According to the Vedas Rama is the very same God, a qualified form, an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the person we generally refer to as God, except His features are more clearly drawn out. From His lila, or divine sport, we get an idea of His tendencies and what pleases Him.

From Hanuman’s behavior, we see that dharma involves two parties. The occupational duty is carried out by the individual, but the beneficiary is the Supreme Lord. Though Hanuman carried out physical work in the beginning, we see from the above referenced verse from the Ramayana that it is indeed the mind which is the determining factor in divine service. If it is connected to God, if the work we apply brings about this connection, then the service and its mechanisms are legitimate.

Shri HanumanIn this particular instance, Hanuman has just spotted Sita from afar. At first he wasn’t sure that it was her, but through careful mental deliberation and review of her features, he reached a confident conclusion that this woman was indeed Rama’s missing wife. Rather than celebrate his amazing achievement, which he was more than justified in doing, Hanuman happily approached Rama in mind. This means that through his service he knew to remain connected to God in consciousness.

What is the significance of this? Is Hanuman specifically asking for something? Is he thanking God for a benefit? Is he praying for success? Such requests are always worth making when approaching the Supreme Lord directly, but in this case Hanuman is just praising Rama. The Lord had such a virtuous and beautiful wife and somehow He was able to survive in her absence. Only a person possessing the utmost renunciation, who kept his wife in his thoughts but didn’t let the separation change his course, could pull off such a feat.

In any task, in whatever condition we find ourselves, approaching God to praise Him is always beneficial. The connection to the divine is known as yoga, and when it exists at the time of death, the full potential of the human birth is realized. To be able to think about God is the main benefit of the human birth. The influence of the senses is too strong in the other species; thus the issues of eating, sleeping, mating and defending take paramount importance. In the human being these behaviors are so commonplace that they get to be boring after a while. Every person is looking for more, a higher taste, and Shri Rama and His divine qualities are it. Shri Hanuman knows this very well, so he always thinks of his Lord. And as Rama is antaryami, or the all-pervading witness, He recognizes Hanuman’s thoughts and reciprocates by creating conditions for that yoga to flourish. Hanuman is so powerful that anyone who thinks of him regularly can learn how to create that connection to God and keep it active until the time of death.

In Closing:

Approach God when times are good?

When difficult concepts understood?


How about when conditions are bad?

When tragic loss has made me sad?


Soul’s dharma means that any time,

Is good for approaching God in mind.


Rama’s wife in Ashoka grove found,

Hanuman’s mind then in happiness abound.


In auspiciousness Rama appreciated,

On Him Hanuman’s mind concentrated.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Highest Compliment

Sita Devi's hand“Indeed, the mighty-armed Rama has done a most impossible task in being able to live for even a moment being separated from this intoxicating lady, Sita.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 15.53)

duṣkaram kurute rāmo imām matta kāśinīm |
sītām vinā mahā bāhuḥ muhūrtam api jīvati ||

A man who has loved and then lost will tell you that there is no pain greater in life than that loss. The source of the misery relates to both the lost association and the debilitating blow to the ego. In an era where men and women freely comingle and thus enter into relationships based on mutual attraction, to lose the association of a woman means that she no longer desires your company. Or worse, she may never have desired it to begin with. Seeing her every day, sharing laughter, trading stories, and having general good fun together doesn’t automatically mean that she will want to enter into an intimate relationship.

If a relationship is formed and then broken later on, the rejected person can’t help but wonder what they could have done to prevent the situation. “What did I do wrong? Was I too nice? Was I not nice enough? Did I say something that was inappropriate? Does she long for another man’s company? Is that person better than me? How can I get her back? How do I prevent this from happening in the future?”

The intensity of the pain is linearly related to the gloriousness of the woman in question. This means that the better she is in qualities, the more the separation from her will hurt. This should only make sense. The greatest loss occurs when something of high value is no longer available. The man who is poor his whole life doesn’t feel the same pain that a wealthy man turned poor does. The former never knows what it’s like to have a lot of money, to spend extravagantly, and to get whatever material possession they desire at a moment’s notice. The wealthy man has these experiences, and so when he loses his wealth he feels as if he has lost something great.

A similar comparison was once made by Sita Devi, who ironically is the spark for the present discussion. She is the goddess of fortune, the wife of the Supreme Lord. Since God is married to Sita, He is known as Madhava, or the husband of the goddess of fortune. He is thus the most fortunate person in the world. Sita comes to earth to take part in the pastimes of her dear husband when the time and place are appropriate.

When she appears, she does not come out of the womb of a mother. Instead, she is found in the ground by the pious king named Janaka. The Treta Yuga, or second time period of creation, is when Sita appeared last. When Janaka found her, he felt tremendous affection, taking the girl in as his daughter and naming her Sita because of her relation to the earth.

“After seeing that I had reached an age suitable for giving me away to a proper husband in marriage, my father became overcome with fear and anxiety, like a man who was about to become poor.” (Sita Devi speaking to Anasuya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.34)

We know of Janaka’s feelings based on Sita’s own testimony given once to the female sage Anasuya. She was interested in hearing the details of Sita’s marriage arrangement from Sita herself. The goddess of fortune described that when she reached an age appropriate for marriage, Janaka was hesitant to give her away, feeling like a man who was about to become poor.

The only suitable husband for her, of course, is God, who had appeared on earth at the time as the prince of the Raghu dynasty, Lord Rama. After marrying Sita and living together for a while, Rama would have to be separated from her. In the search for her whereabouts, Rama befriended a Vanara-minister named Hanuman. That same emissary would then have to travel by himself all the way to the enemy territory of Lanka to look for Sita.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Hanuman has just spotted a princess from a distance. Based on her features, he has concluded that she is Sita. Now that he knows that this person is Rama’s wife, Hanuman starts to marvel at how Rama has been able to survive. Sita’s qualities were so wonderful that any man who was married to her surely couldn’t survive separation, even for a moment.

Sita DeviHanuman pays both Sita and Rama the highest compliment. In Sita’s case, she is described to be the most beautiful person in the world from someone with a spotless character. How many of us have braved the elements and travelled thousands of miles away from home just to help someone we only knew for a brief period of time? Volunteer military men and women do this kind of thing for their country and they are rightfully appreciated for their sacrifice. But Hanuman had to go it alone in the end, and he was in a place where he was not welcome. The evil king of Lanka, Ravana, had taken Sita away through a backhanded plot, so he didn’t want anyone to find her. Ravana was enamored by Sita’s beauty, but she would never give in to him.

Hanuman risked his life to please Rama, so his character cannot be surpassed by any person. And just see who the person of the highest character devotes his life to. Just see what his opinion of Sita and Rama is. And just see how immediately upon seeing Sita he can understand how in control of His senses Rama is. Rama is described as mighty-armed, which means that He is very strong. As a capable warrior, He could win over any woman in the world, but Sita is the only wife He desires. And as beautiful as she is, Rama lives without her physical presence from time to time.

Any other person would have had great difficulty continuing to live on. Surely one can keep their spirits high if they have never been married or never felt the association of a beautiful person. But as Sita is considered the ideal woman, separation from her is considered a debilitating loss. Hanuman previously noted that Rama survives in separation by keeping her in His mind, and Sita does the same thing.

“Tulsi emphatically says, ‘O mind, hear what I am saying and always take it to heart, for this will benefit you. Remembering Shri Rama’s holy name is the greatest profit, and forgetting Him is the worst loss.’” (Dohavali, 21)

For the individual spirit soul trapped in a cycle of reincarnation, the path to spiritual freedom is the holy name of the Lord. There are many holy names, but Krishna and Rama are considered the best, and they are nicely sequenced together in the maha-mantra: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Remembrance of these names is the greatest profit, and so conversely forgetfulness of them is the greatest loss. Separation from the personal association of the Supreme Lord and His eternal consort is quite painful, but to stay alive one simply requires remembrance, and regular hearing is a way to practice remembering. And remembering Sita, Rama and Hanuman is a great way to go, as their wonderful qualities bring an intoxicating sweetness for the mind to treasure.

In Closing:

Stinging is the pain,

When separated you remain.


To lose something you had hurts more,

Than to have never had it before.


Rama lived, but how was it possible?

To survive without this lady was impossible.


Sita, of intoxicating qualities the highest,

Married to Rama, of arms the mightiest.


Highest compliment to both of them paid,

By the astute observations that Hanuman made.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Living In Separation

Sita Devi holding a flower“This divine lady’s mind is situated in His and His in hers. It is for this reason alone that she and that righteous-souled man are able to live for even a moment.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 15.52)

asyā devyā manaḥ tasminḥ tasya ca asyām pratiṣṭhitam |
tena iyam sa ca dharma ātmā muhūrtam api jīvati ||

It is described in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, that the living entities are spirit souls at the core who travel through a process of transmigration, wherein their bodies constantly change. To the perceivable memory the changes start at the time of birth and then continue all the way up until the time of death. This is visible to the knowledgeable observer, but what isn’t seen is that the transmigration continues on into the next life. Moreover, there were changes prior to the current birth. The transmigration operates for as long as desire and work dictate, and so once those are shifted to the proper area, the process stops and a return to the permanent abode is granted.

The required shift also reveals the cause of the initial condition. It is said that the spirit soul is blissful, knowledgeable and eternal. There is also a higher spirit soul, which lives within the individual body, but it is of a different nature. Think of the cable or satellite television feed that comes into your home. You may be watching a certain program in your bedroom through this feed, but the feed is not exclusive to you. It is directed into many other homes simultaneously. The channel represents a kind of energy, and it is more powerful than you because you can only diffuse your influence to the local realm. The more powerful force has a higher range of influence.

In the same way, the individual soul has only a localized consciousness. We can feel, think and will, but nobody else is privy to this. We may tell them about our experiences and they may guess what we are feeling based on human tendencies, but the experience of life within our body is still unique to us. The superior soul, however, is conscious within all beings. He is thus considered all-knowing and all-pervading. He never leaves the individual, but in the conditioned state, wherein reincarnation constantly applies, there is forgetfulness of both the superior’s presence and His influence.

That forgetfulness is the root cause of the descent from the higher realm. In the spiritual plane there is constant remembrance of the Supreme Soul, and so there is no need to change bodies. Therefore how to return to the spiritual realm is quite simple: think of the Supreme Soul always. That higher spiritual force is commonly referred to as God, and all the major religions of the world seek to connect with Him in some way or another. The common thread in all the rituals and regulations is remembrance, wherein there is an unbroken link in thought to the Supreme, a state known as God consciousness.

In the Vedic tradition, God is assigned thousands of names to highlight His features. Krishna is considered the best name because it says that God is all-attractive. The highest state of thought can therefore be referred to as Krishna consciousness. Krishna has personal incarnations and expansions, but there is still only one God. Rama is one of His famous incarnations, and He is the same Krishna. To think of Rama is no different than to think of Krishna, and that thinking keeps one situated in transcendence.

What does it mean to be on a higher plane of consciousness? The body is not your identity; it is simply a temporary covering that is ideally used to help further Krishna consciousness. In the higher state, the body’s influence is secondary; the external surroundings are also transcended. We can look to the example of Sita Devi in Lanka to see how this works. She was in the most terrifying circumstance, separated from her dearly beloved due to no fault of her own. She couldn’t just sit quietly in peace either. She was asked to give in to the evil king of Lanka, Ravana, the fiend who had taken her away from her husband’s side through a backhanded plot. She refused to even look at him, and so the king ordered some of his assistants to harass her day and night.

Why continue living? Why go on in such a pitiable state? Why not just quit the body and be done with the misery? From the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman tells us how Sita was able to survive. Just from seeing her from afar, the spy sent to Lanka to look for Sita could tell that her mind was firmly situated in her husband’s. This meant that she only thought of Him, and since He was God, the process was akin to yoga, or the linking of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. That link is known to help one transcend the effects of the body. The terrifying circumstances couldn’t harm Sita when she remembered Rama.

“For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.30)

Sita DeviHanuman also notes that Rama, who is a righteous soul, or dharma-atma, has His mind firmly fixed in Sita’s. This is a truth we are kindly reminded of in the Bhagavad-gita, the famous scripture of the Vedic tradition spoken by Shri Krishna Himself many years later. In that work the Lord says that the devotees are never lost to Him, since they see Him everywhere. It is not that He ignores the non-devotees, but if someone doesn’t want to connect with Him, the Lord will not force Himself upon them. This means that only in bhakti-yoga, divine connection in love, is there aid from the superior party. All other kinds of transcendentalism are thus more difficult because the burden for success is on the individual, who is known to be flawed based on the fact that they took birth from a womb. Any birth, whether in an animal or human species, indicates that in the previous existence there was a failure to think of God at the time of death.

Rama is God, so He does not die. He can survive in any situation, but since Sita was His beloved, He made sure to show signs of distress when she went missing. This is a most endearing quality, as Rama shows that He is the most compassionate. This trait is passed on to devoted servants like Hanuman, who only continued in his difficult journey because of his love for Sita and Rama. Up until this time Hanuman had never met Sita, but due to her relation to Rama he automatically held her in high esteem.

Reincarnation brings travels through difficult circumstances, so there is constant turmoil, distress, fear, doubt and lamentation over past failures. But know that in any situation, just by thinking of God we can be in a better place. Though we may not be in His direct company, thinking of Him is as effective as personal contact. Sita and Rama showed this during their time on earth, which is documented in the Ramayana poem of Valmiki. Therefore hearing from the Ramayana is one way to think of both Sita and Rama. It also allows us to think of Hanuman, who continues to live blissfully in separation to this day, always singing the glories of the divine couple.

In Closing:

Janaki to live in husband’s mind,

And He in hers in kind.


For this reason her life not to depart,

Though she and husband far apart.


Hanuman knew this from Sita’s face,

Troubles her thoughts of Rama to erase.


Devotees require not God by their side,

For in their hearts He always resides.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Radha and Krishna“A living entity, by his constitutional position, cannot be void of all desires (the bhukti-kami, mukti-kami and siddhi-kami all desire something for personal satisfaction), but the nishkami devotees of the Lord desire everything for the satisfaction of the Lord. They are completely dependent on the orders of the Lord and are always ready to discharge their duty for the satisfaction of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.4.19 Purport)

If you get in trouble enough with the actions you take, you may start to realize that it is the desires themselves that are leading to the trouble. For instance, if you eat too much ice cream and feel physical discomfort later on, you may blame the ice cream, but it was your desire to eat it that led you into the activity that resulted in trouble. One reaction to this realization is to try to shun all desire, but even this is a kind of desire. In the purest state of consciousness desire is still present, but it serves a viable purpose. And since the purpose is pure, the resultant negative reactions are gone. A person with such desires is described as nishkama in the Vedas, which means desireless. Through the examples of devotees like Hanuman we get an idea of how that lack of desire manifests.

The Vedas, the oldest scriptures in the world, have different levels of detail to suit the inquisitiveness or lack thereof in the specific interested party. For instance, if you just want material rewards, you can perform sacrifices and worship specific personalities designated to manage over the areas in question. If you want straight devotion to a divine figure, wherein you surrender everything to them, you can worship them exclusively and not worry about anything else. If you are overly inquisitive, you will get a lifetime’s worth of philosophy that is so rich that every philosophy existing past, present and future is simultaneously explained.

To explain every philosophy is to know every desire. Desires of the living entity can be grouped into three categories. There are those who want sense enjoyment. The previous example of eating ice cream falls into this category. To eat, sleep, mate and defend to one’s satisfaction relates to sense pleasure, and so this type of desire is described as bhukti-kama. The inverse is mukti-kama, which is the desire for liberation. Sense pleasures are granted for as long as one desires them, and mukti means release, which culminates with the cessation of the cycle of birth and death. Siddhi-kama refers to the desire for mystic perfection, such as the ability to become very small, very large, very powerful, very light, etc. True yogis can do amazing things with the siddhis they acquire.

The devotees are a unique category, and they are described as nishkama, which means desireless. You cannot stop desire, not even for a moment. It’s like trying to stop the mind from working. Ever since you were born your mind has worked, even while you slept. Therefore it is impossible to stop desire, as the mind contemplates on something. In nishkama, your desires change. You work to satisfy the Supreme Lord, who is the original person. He is the Supreme Soul, while the individual is the smaller soul. The Supreme is conscious of all souls, whereas the individual only knows about their own experiences.

The nishkama devotees depend on the Lord for their happiness, and they are willing to act at a moment’s notice. We can take Shri Hanuman as an example. Who would want to leave their home, where their friends and family are, and travel to a far away land full of enemies? Who would want to risk their life for the interests of someone they barely know? Yet this is precisely what Hanuman did one time, and since his desire was rooted in pleasing the Supreme Lord Rama, Hanuman’s actions are appropriately described as nishkama.

This state is considered ideal because it leads to real pleasure. Bhukti, mukti, and siddhi fluctuate. One day we want something, the next day we swear off of it. With a siddhi there must be a practical use. If you have a large bank balance, it doesn’t mean anything unless you actually spend the money. In a similar manner, to have the ability to change your shape or fly through the sky with your soul only has significance when it serves a tangible purpose. If the purpose relates to bhukti or mukti, there is desire involved.

Shri HanumanHanuman has full possession of all siddhis, and sometimes he is in a state where there is sense enjoyment, such as in Kishkindha with his Vanara friends. Other times, like when he was in Lanka all alone, there is no sense enjoyment available. Hanuman is truly desireless because in either case he is serving the interests of the Supreme Lord. He is immune to the effects of both situations. He even once saw many beautiful women in an intimate setting. This vision appeared before him by accident, as he was looking for Rama’s missing wife Sita at the time. To find a lost woman one must look amidst other women.

“I certainly could not have searched for Vaidehi [Sita] anywhere else. When searching, one always looks for women in those places where other women are.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 11.42)

Normally, to look among such women is considered sense gratification, but Hanuman’s mind was not altered. Previous to that his monkey group contemplated suicide when they were stuck on the shore of an ocean without any future plans in the mission. At this time too Hanuman thought of Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana. In this state of renunciation, which can be likened to the desire for mukti, Hanuman was still without personal desire.

To purify desire one must ascend to the devotional platform. This is best facilitated through the method of hearing. And what should we hear? The holy names, which are non-different from the person Hanuman serves. Chanting produces the required sound, so to regularly recite the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, means to hear God. And the desire to constantly hear falls in the category of nishkama, which brings transcendental pleasure.

In Closing:

As nishkami, devotees desire are without,

Opportunities to please Krishna they seek out.


Bhukti for sense enjoyment, release for mukti,

Yogis in meditation have kama for siddhi.


From desire you can never be free,

Desireless only when God’s pleasure you want to see.


Like Hanuman, who acts only for Rama’s interest,

In enjoyment or renunciation, on devotion he’s set.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Science to Tweak

Radha and Krishna deities“The perfection of human life is based on knowledge and renunciation, but it is very difficult to attempt to reach the stage of knowledge and renunciation while in family life. Krishna conscious persons therefore take shelter of the association of devotees or sanctified places of pilgrimage.” (Prayers of the personified Vedas, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 32)

“It’s not fair. I’m ready to take up bhakti-yoga. I feel a connection to Krishna already, just from reading about Him and chanting His names. I’m ready to take on this Krishna consciousness thing for real, but there is no one around to help me. I’m far, far away from any temple, and everyone around me eats meat, drinks beer and has no concept of religion other than the periodic visits to church. What am I to do? I’m in trouble and no one is here to rescue me.”

Bhakti-yoga, while the original occupational duty of the spirit soul, is also a scientific pursuit available to the human being capable of applying principles and shaping their lives in such a way so as to adhere to them. Material rewards can be received in an instant. Someone can come up to you and give you money. Some fortunate attendees to a taping of a famous television talk show once received cars as a gift. The bank can make an error and put more money in your account. A beautiful wife can be your gift from a father who wants to find the right match for his daughter. In times past, when it was possible to conduct intense austerity and meditation, even miscreants would receive amazing boons, such as a long duration of life and immense strength. Though such rewards can be handed to us, prema-bhakti, pure love for the Divine, is not so easily acquired.

And this isn’t a bad thing. It’s the greatest gift in the world to be able to love God with all your heart, through any and all situations. To have to work for that highest reward makes one appreciate it even more. In the relationships with loved ones, we may take their association for granted, but if there is a constant worry that the person you love so much will leave you, you will likely treat them better. You will also cherish their association that much more. In bhakti-yoga, when practiced at the highest level, there is constant worry over the inability to practice devotion. There is the fear that the Supreme Lord will remain far away, that you will never be able to properly connect with Him, no matter how strong the desire to may be.

The lament over the inability to practice bhakti due to unfavorable circumstances shows a strong desire to perform that service. Unlike in other endeavors, in bhakti sincerity in purpose is all that is required for success. This is because the beneficiary of divine love is the most powerful person. He can make anything happen, as through a single exhalation from Him this entire universe is created and through an inhalation everything returns to Him, sort of like a boomerang that takes a while to come back. If He can create and destroy on such a large scale with ease, to create favorable circumstances for His devotee is not difficult.

If you think about it, His topmost devotee is always in situations which seem unfavorable. Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the detail to the abstract conception of a God. He is all-attractive, so He appeals to every single person. The devotee is attracted to His transcendental form and pastimes, and on the reverse side the atheist is attracted to His material nature, which is full of temporary enjoyments that are seemingly difficult to acquire.

Radha and KrishnaShrimati Radharani is the embodiment of Krishna’s pleasure potency. In short, she is the greatest lover of God. As she is an individual just like Krishna, she has a form as well as activities. In the divine realm, Krishna and Radha are always playing, and the scenes for their dramatic play are not ideal on the surface. For instance, though Radha loves Krishna more than anyone can love someone else, she is not always with Him. She must think of Him in separation most of the time, remembering the time they spent together in the past. This makes the pleasure of their actual meetings that much greater. Radharani also worries about getting caught with Krishna, as in Goloka Vrindavana the Lord is not her husband. She is thus prohibited from meeting with Him, which makes it seem like she will never be by His side. To truly understand the nature of their interaction one must be on a very high level of bhakti-yoga, as the dealings between the divine lovers is considered a confidential topic.

In bhakti-yoga there is always work to do, and nothing is handed to anyone right away, no matter how much they think they deserve it. This is Krishna’s favor after all, as prema-bhakti is not a cheap reward to be tossed aside after it is received. Rather, it is a gift whose value only increases with each passing day. The more one chants the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, the more they are inclined to think of Krishna. They then look for more ways to practice bhakti.

Even in the beginning stages, when the seed of the creeper of devotional service within the heart has not yet started to grow, a strong desire to practice bhakti leads one to areas where they can further develop their consciousness. There are plenty of temples in the world, sacred places as well. The Supreme Lord is worshiped in these areas, but the true benefit of the visits is the chance to meet saintly people, those who practice bhakti already. And from them one can learn the art to the science of devotional service. To shape one’s activities in such a way that Krishna is worshiped and thought about throughout the day is the ideal end-result, and through trial and error in this scientific discipline the right formula can be found. And when it is, the devotee is kind enough to reveal that potion with others, should the recipients have the same sincerity of purpose. Throughout this process the benevolence of the Supreme Master shines bright.

In Closing:

Urge to practice bhakti I’ve got,

But in presence of devotees I’m not.


Why not someone help to give?

So that in pleasure I can live.


In devotion only requirement is sincerity,

From there Krishna to give vision’s clarity.


Then devotees to meet and temples to visit,

From association in ecstasy always sit.