Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy For Others

Shri Rama's lotus feet“Then it started raining flowers from the demigods and drums played. Janaka, along with the city’s people and families, became happy, while the rival kings were embarrassed.” (Janaki Mangala, 97)

barisana lage sumana sura dundubhi bājahiṃ |
mudita janaka pura parijana nṛpagana lājahiṃ ||


It is a saintly quality to be happy for someone else when good fortune finds their way. You are a better person if you are happy when your friend wins the lottery as opposed to being jealous of them. Envy is nevertheless a quality all of us possess to some degree. The killer of envy, which is rooted in false pride, is the Supreme Lord. The mechanism for that destruction is His various triumphs, which the pious souls can then rejoice in. The lowest among mankind, however, will never find happiness even with God, whose existence they will continue to deny.

“Wouldn’t it be so much better if God just showed up in front of us? Just remove the doubt already. Why does He make things so difficult? If He showed up right now, everyone could see Him and know that He is real. He would show to everyone that He is not a myth like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Then everyone could happily worship Him and believe in His words found in sacred texts like the Bhagavad-gita.”

This lament is understandable, but it is incorrect in a few assumptions. For starters, implied is that God is not available to us right now. That is like saying that the sun doesn’t exist when we don’t see it. If we are in a dark room during the nighttime, there are no traces of the sun anywhere, or at least that is the accepted conclusion. If I were to then say that the sun doesn’t exist, would that be very wise?

Secondly, the assumption is that just by seeing God in a visible and identifiable form everyone would believe in Him. This is certainly not the case, as the field of law shows that any truth will be challenged if someone sees fit. A good lawyer is one who has no principles; they don’t have any system of authority. They change their accepted authority source based on their needs. For instance, if past case law supports their client’s arguments, the lawyer will cite those cases as evidence for their claim. If they run into trouble, they will use other authorities to help them. When there is no other recourse, they will attack the character of the other side. They will look for any chink in the armor to exploit. This also explains why government becomes so chaotic when run by lawyers. By occupation they are not supposed to follow an absolute authority, so when they take over government they use their expertise in cheating the law to grant favors to various special interest groups.

The above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala shows that the miscreants, the lowest among mankind, who have lost all intelligence, will not recognize God’s presence even when seeing Him directly. Here Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord in His incarnation as a warrior prince, is approaching a bow central to a contest in a kingdom ruled over by a pious king. Many princes were assembled there who had tried to lift the bow. The bow was so heavy that some of the princes just walked up to it and then went back without trying. They didn’t want to risk an embarrassing defeat in front of everyone.

Here there is embarrassment nonetheless. When Rama steps up to the bow, flowers rain down from the sky. Drums also beat to mark the occasion. This means that the residents of the heavenly planets have an interest in the game. They obviously want Rama to win. They didn’t do the same for the other princes. This is embarrassing to the rival princes because Rama received honor that they didn’t.

At the same time, Goswami Tulsidas tells us that King Janaka and the residents of the town were happy to see this. They were pure souls; people who had already performed rigorous austerities in past lives. In the present life they lived under the protection of the pious King Janaka. He was known throughout the world for his honor and dedication to the Vedas, the original scriptural tradition of the world. Though he received a daughter in a non-traditional way, he still followed protocol and looked for a suitable husband for her when she reached the appropriate age.

Janaka’s innocent respect for the rule of Vedic law brought the many princes from around the world. He created a contest, and so everyone wanted to win it. The prize was the hand in marriage of Janaka’s daughter Sita. Rama also came, following Vishvamitra Muni from the forest. The people of the town were interested in the contest, which required one to lift the extremely heavy bow of Lord Shiva. Since they were pious souls, they recognized Rama to be someone extraordinary. Therefore they immediately decided that He should win, that He should marry Sita.

Lord RamaThey saw God, and though they didn’t necessarily spot His identity right away, they didn’t have to. They had a spontaneous love for Him, which was shown in many ways. They wanted Him to win, they were attracted to His transcendental beauty, and they were thrilled when flowers rained down from the sky prior to His attempt at lifting the bow.

And their love continued when Rama lifted the bow and married Sita. They never forgot Him even after He returned to His home of Ayodhya with His new wife. They worshiped Rama both when He was in their presence and when He wasn’t. Such worship is only possible with God, who is Absolute. Remembering His physical presence is as good as seeing it in person. Also, saying His name is as good as seeing Him. Therefore the wise souls who follow the example of the thrilled residents of Janakpur always chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” The miscreants will never believe in God despite all the evidence available to them. After many lifetimes of suffering, if they are fortunate enough to receive the blessings of a devotee, only then will their eyes open up, allowing them to join the party.

In Closing:

Should you envy others why?

To be happy for them instead try.

 

To the saints belongs this quality,

Lack of envy in man a true rarity.

 

To envy of God never give voice,

In His triumphs happily rejoice.

 

Flowers and drums when Rama’s chance,

Pleased spectators who with love at Him glanced.

 

Fiends saw God but still recognition was lame,

Reduced to unhappiness in their shame.

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