Friday, April 19, 2013

Rama Navami 2013

Rama lifting the bow“As antaryami, Shri Rama knows everyone’s maladies. Raising the bow, in curiosity He is drawing the string to His ear.” (Janaki Mangala, 103)

antarajāmī rāma marama saba jāneu |
dhanu caḍhāi kautukahiṃ kāna lagi tāneu ||


Sugriva put all his faith in this one person and got everything he could want in return. Vibhishana trusted the same person and was also duly rewarded. Shabari, the boatman named Kevata, the residents of Ayodhya, King Janaka and so many others also invested full faith in the same man and were not disappointed. One time Janaka’s daughter was frantic in fear over the uncertainty of her future, over how she might miss the chance to spend the rest of her life with someone very special. Not surprisingly, faith was extended in the same person, who can hear and answer innumerable simultaneous prayers. He responded to her faith by effortlessly lifting up an object of a massive weight. On the day of Rama Navami, we celebrate His name, fame and glories.

It’s nice to have faith in someone else to do something extraordinary. It’s like knowing that the job will get done despite all the formidable obstacles present. If you can’t solve a math problem, you can at least say: “I may not be able to do it, but my friend can. He’s so smart. He’s smarter than all of you people. Watch when he sees this equation. He will put everything together in mere moments, making fools of us all.” We have the same mentality with pretty much any issue of ability, such as with alluring members of the opposite sex, making sales, cooking, and fixing cars.

Lord RamaThe Supreme Lord is the greatest at everything, so He can make any difficult task look ridiculously easy. And the exhibition of this ability is especially pleasing to those who have faith in Him. We all invest faith, regardless of whether we are religious or not. Thus religion’s uniqueness cannot come from the issue of faith.  Indeed, to think of religion only in terms of faith is a fallacy, the viewpoint of those whose knowledge has not yet been fully revealed by the Truth. We put faith in politicians, who are known to lie and disappoint us. We put faith in sports teams, who are guaranteed to lose many times over. We put faith in our friends and family, but they, like us, are destined to die.

Faith in the higher power may be invested with a similar attitude, but the difference is that the higher power never fails to deliver. In the material land there is competition over worship. The statists want the citizens to worship them instead of God:

“Put your faith in us. Why worship an imaginary figure? Tell you what, let’s take these two plants. Give one of them to us and the other leave to God. See what happens in a few weeks. Our plant will come out just fine and the one left to God will wither and die. This proves that there is no God. Either that or He doesn’t answer all of your prayers. We’ll listen to you, while He, if He exists at all, won’t.”

If faith in Him is dependent on His ability to deliver on orders, like an online retail outlet, then the faith will not last very long. Since not all orders are fulfilled, one thinks that the faith is meaningless. But in actuality sometimes not getting what we want is better for us. In fact, this is the case many times. The faith in ordinary living entities, including the godless regimes, is different because the object worshiped is not capable of doing everything. They cannot even hear all of the faith extended to them, so how could they possibly respond to everything?

Sita and her friends watching the contestWhen the faith is extended in earnest, where there is no desire for personal gain, only for the ability to serve Him more, the Supreme Lord reciprocates in the best possible way. One time there was a contest in the kingdom of Janakpur. It related to strength. A bow of a massive weight lay in the middle of an arena. It’s formidability was evident just upon sight, and its legendary stature increased as each prince approached it and failed to even move it. It soon became the greatest obstacle to the hopes of a beautiful princess.

Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka, saw Shri Rama at the assembly and wanted Him as a husband. This was an ancient time, the Treta Yuga, which is the second of the four time periods of creation. A wife in such a time was a faithful servant. Sita was especially pious since she was the daughter of Janaka, who was the host of the ceremony. So in hoping to have Rama as a husband, she desperately desired the opportunity to serve Him without motivation and without interruption. Indeed, through her actions after marriage she would prove to be the most chaste wife, an example of fidelity for all relationships based on trust.

Rama is God. He is the Supreme Lord in His manifestation as a warrior prince. The Supreme Lord is all-pervading. Some part of Him is always visible. If you can’t see His personal form, you can at least see His influence. One who cannot perceive the influence thinks that He doesn’t exist. In such cases, especially when there is a decline of religious practice and a sharp increase in irreligion, the Lord manifests in a personal form. Even then there is doubt over His existence, but those who have a pure heart can see Him and take further pleasure in attachment to Him. Rama is one such personal manifestation of Godhead. His body is spiritual. He doesn’t take birth, though He emerges from the womb of Queen Kausalya, one of the beloved queens of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya.

Mother Kausalya with RamaWhoever would first lift the bow would win Sita’s hand in marriage. Sita hoped that Rama would win, but she wasn’t sure of the outcome. Think of the pleasure you feel when the person you put faith in comes in to save the day. Now just imagine how much greater that pleasure is when you are not as sure of the same person getting the job done. This is sort of how the devotees feel when the Supreme Lord swoops in to save the day. On this occasion, the bow was the great obstacle, but as Goswami Tulsidas describes in his Janaki Mangala, Rama took the bow in His hands and lifted it up as if it were child’s play.

The toys for a child are not complex. They are not that heavy, either. This way the child can curiously look at the toy and do with it as they please. This bow was treated in the same way by Rama. “Hmm, what’s this? This bow looks interesting. Let me pick it up to get a further look. Hmm, there‘s a string on here. I wonder what happens if I draw this string back to my ear.” And just as the child may take their curiosity too far from time to time, Shri Rama drew the string back so far that the bow snapped in half. That object which was too heavy for even the mightiest of princes to move was easily broken by the beautiful and youthful Shri Rama.

Rama's army building a bridge with rocksRama had many similar pastimes. During a later time, after Sita would be kidnapped by the Rakshasa fiend named Ravana, it looked like Rama would have difficulty crossing over an ocean with His army. Yet through His same curiosity, triggered by the same faith extended in Him by the eager monkey-army from Kishkindha, rocks were able to float. Instead of sinking, they stayed on the surface of the water, allowing for a bridge to be made. Rama also once playfully defeated 14,000 of the greatest fighters in the world. They came to attack Him, His younger brother Lakshmana and Sita while they were in the forest. Again, all faith was put in Rama, and He responded by singlehandedly defeating the fiends sent from Lanka.

Sugriva was troubled by his brother Vali, who had driven him out of his kingdom. Vibhishana was also driven out of his kingdom by his brother. Bharata, one of Rama’s younger brothers, had the guilt of knowing that his mother had caused Rama to leave the kingdom for fourteen years, when the kingdom rightfully belonged to Rama. In all such cases, the faith extended in Rama was rewarded with the removal of the obstacles. At other times, Rama descends in different forms, but He still shows the same ability to make child’s play of a difficult situation. As Shri Krishna, He turned a massive hill into a pastime umbrella. As Lord Varaha, He lifted the earth planet with ease and saved it from a deluge. He invests similar potency in His devotees. Shri Hanuman, Rama’s greatest servant, once lifted a mountain when he was in panic over saving Lakshmana.

Hanuman lifting a mountainSimilarly, devotees of today are invested with the ability to deliver Rama’s presence through the simple sound vibration of: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” Faith in these words always delivers the best result, as Shri Rama personally arrives to show His strength. On Rama Navami, we remember that king of kings who once curiously lifted the famous bow of Shiva to make the beautiful Janaki His wife.

In Closing:

Real faith in Rama the only way,

Who made lifting of bow child’s play.

 

When over future put into fear’s state,

In prince of Ayodhya Janaki put all faith.

 

Gave to her the most desired gift,

When bow in His hands in air to lift.

 

Faith so many others have given the same,

Bring Him to the rescue by saying His name.

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