Saturday, March 2, 2013

Finding a Well

Lord Rama's lotus feet“Like a thirsty man desiring to find a well, Rama desires to see her, who is endowed with character and has been harassed by Ravana.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 16.22)

imām tu śīla sampannām draṣṭum iccati rāghavaḥ |
rāvaṇena pramathitām prapām iva pipāsitaḥ ||


If I am thirsty and you give me a drink, it will satisfy my thirst a little bit. Eventually, though, I will need another drink. If I say to you that my thirst will only be satisfied by finding a well, it means that I am really thirsty. It also means that I’m looking for something to eliminate thirst altogether. Such was the case with Shri Rama, who adores the association of His devotees so much that it seems like He can’t live without them.

God is self-sufficient. This is part of being God. If we concoct an idea of a supreme being, one of the features we’d assign to him is the ability to live without requiring anything. We already know of such objects in nature. The sun stays in its place without requiring any external fuel source. No gas tankers drive to the sun and no electricity is pumped into it. Instead, it is the diffuser of heat and light. The diffusion takes place without cessation. The energy we get from the sun is so strong that we don’t like the nighttime, when the sun is absent from our vision. We also don’t like the cold winters, when the sun’s target rays are not as directly available to us.

The theoretical conception of a God includes the feature of self-sustainability and so does the practical truth of a God presented by the Vedas. In that scriptural tradition the original supreme being is addressed through thousands of names and features. Rama is one of His names and it means that He is the source of all transcendental pleasure. That source also gives pleasure to others through His association. From the word Rama we also get “atmarama”, which means one who is self-satisfied. The atma is the self; it is the identifying force within each living creature. A creature is considered dead when it is devoid of an atma, or soul.

Rama is also a historical personality, and in the above referenced verse from the Ramayana it is said that Rama seeks out the association of Sita Devi, His wife, like a thirsty man looking for a well. Isn’t this contradictory? Hanuman’s statement doesn’t say that Rama somewhat likes Sita’s company. It doesn’t say, “Oh, if Rama happens to run into Sita, He wouldn’t mind hanging out with her for a while. He’ll spend time with pretty much anyone, so Sita is no different in this regard.”

Sita DeviThe statement made by Hanuman is much stronger. And there is a reason provided as well. Hanuman says that Sita is endowed with high character. Also, at the moment she is being harassed by Ravana, a vile creature of cruel deeds. That combination made Rama all the more eager to find His beloved wife. If we know that our child is in school, we may not think about them so much. We understand that they are in a place of learning and that more likely than not they will eventually come home after the day is over.

If they are in trouble, however, we won’t be able to stop thinking about them. We’ll do whatever we can to find them again, and until they are found our anxiety will not rest. And if the children are dear to us, if they are kind and obedient, we will be even more worried about them. We won’t be able to think of anything else.

Shri Rama feels this way towards His most beloved devotees, and in the case of Sita the trouble was life-threatening. Therefore Shri Rama was very thirsty, and His thirst wouldn’t be satisfied until He found the well of virtuous qualities that was His dear wife. He sent His most trusted servant, Shri Hanuman, to find this life-saving well and report the location to Him. Hanuman didn’t have it easy in the search; several times he thought there was no hope. In the scene referenced above, Hanuman has finally found Sita, so automatically he remembers Rama at the same time and how desirous the Lord is of reuniting with His wife, who was taken away from His side through a backhanded plot executed by Ravana.

An important thing to remember is that Sita wanted rescue; i.e. she wanted to be with Rama again. All of us conditioned living entities are currently separated from God in terms of consciousness, but if we don’t want to reunite with Him, why will He seek us out? Why would He force us to be with Him, especially if He is self-satisfied?

We should know that if we fix ourselves up to the point that we are endowed with a wonderful character, Shri Rama will do whatever it takes to rescue us. He knows that we’re in the precarious condition where we mistakenly identify with our temporary body and think that sense pleasure is the summit of living. He already rests within our heart as the Supersoul, so He can guide us from within if we like. To reform us from without He sends His trusted messengers, who act in the same way as Hanuman. The combination of the representative and the original personality makes the rescue quite easy. The beginning step is making our desire known, and there is no easier way to do that than chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

In Closing:

If I’m only a little thirsty you think,

Perhaps only offer me a single drink.

 

If thirst much stronger you can tell,

Perhaps only satisfied from finding a well.

 

With Shri Rama such was the case,

Wanted to again see Sita’s lovely face.

 

Hanuman sent for that well of virtue to find,

When seeing Sita in grove, Rama came to mind.

 

As atmarama, our association Lord doesn’t need,

But turning His way His desire to rescue to feed.

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