Monday, June 17, 2013

A Cool Ocean of Nectar

Sita and Rama“Rama went towards the guru, and the king, queen, men and women all filled with bliss, like thirsty male and female elephants entering a cool ocean of nectar.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 14.1)

gae rāma gurū pahiṃ rāu rānī nāri-nara ānanda bhare |
janu tṛṣita kari karinī nikara sītala sudhāsāgara pare ||


In the Vedas, there is often reference to purity. That which is pure is beyond contamination; it has no defect. Pure things are also the best; nothing is better. In a land governed by duality, everything is double-sided. Nothing is totally good or totally bad. What we generally consider good is that which brings us closer to the endpoint of complete purity, but this doesn’t mean that the mechanism itself is free of flaws. For this reason, when making analogies to describe the behavior of those who get to personally witness God’s glorious nature, the ever-attentive saints make sure to amplify the emotions by pointing to the best, the purest form of something.

In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, an analogy is made to elephants finding a cool ocean. Imagine male and female elephants living in a jungle. It is very warm. These are elephants, so they can’t really think too far ahead into the future. They aren’t expert at making plans. They can’t tell themselves, “Okay, let me just tolerate the heat a little bit longer. This will be for my own good because then my senses will be trained to endure austere conditions. The stronger my senses are, the more capable I will be at handling adversity. As life is full of unexpected twists, sometimes bringing good fortune and other times taking away that to which we are attached, if I can survive through any condition I will be better off.”

ElephantsThe animals are driven more by their impulses. This is why when we see someone eating uncontrollably, without giving concern to the future implications, we compare them to an animal. The same goes for uncontrolled sex life. The animals are less evolved in this way; it is their consciousness which is underdeveloped. They have no choice in the matter, as due to their body type inherited at the time of birth there is a ceiling to their intelligence. The human being’s ceiling is much higher; in fact it goes to the highest level for living entities.

The elephants in the hot jungle could really go for a swim in a cold pond. Imagine, then, what they would feel if they found a large ocean full of cool, refreshing water. The satisfaction to the senses would be instant and great. The delight would be greater than that which is felt on an ordinary day when a cool pond is found. Think of it like sitting down for a sumptuous feast when you are really hungry. Think of it like getting a cold soft drink when you’re really thirsty and suffering from the heat.

This comparison to the elephants is made by Goswami Tulsidas to describe what the men and women of the town of Janakpur felt when they saw Rama approaching His guru. The king and queen felt the same way. They were all happy to officially welcome Rama into their family, which was the result to His winning the contest of the bow. Rama lifted a bow that was so heavy that no other prince could even move it. His reward: the hand of Sita Devi in marriage. Sita was the king’s daughter. She was so beautiful that any prince would do anything to have her. Yet the rules made by her father, King Janaka, stipulated that Sita would only marry whichever prince could lift the bow in the arena.

Lord RamaSeeing Rama, who is the Supreme Lord in an incarnation as a warrior prince, the people became filled with ananda, or bliss. The ananda was the pleasurable reward, and since the comparison was made to the thirsty elephants, it means that the people were highly desirous of that reward. They wanted very badly for Rama to win. They didn’t want any other prince to succeed. They were so invested in the outcome that they feared what might happen should Rama be unable to lift the bow. As Bhagavan, Rama possesses the opulence of beauty to the fullest degree. At this time, He was a charming youth with delicate features. The people worried that His tenderness wasn’t a good match for the hardness of the heavy bow.

Just as the thirsty elephants finally get water from a cool ocean, so the people of the town desirous of Rama’s victory got an ocean of ananda in His vision. At the same time, Goswami Tulsidas makes sure to say that the ocean is made of nectar. Nectar is the best drink; it is akin to the purest beverage, as nothing is better than it. Rama is the best because He is God. The bliss the residents received was unlike any other. This wasn’t the normal happiness that comes from relief. Rama’s image gave them purity in bliss at the time, and the memory of His image would stay with them forever.

The material existence is likened to an ocean of suffering. Sometimes there is scorching heat and other times there is biting cold. Sometimes we are with friends and sometimes we are alone. The conditions always change, as that is the nature of the world. Despite our sufferings, we too can find an ocean of nectar to quench our thirst for ananda. That nectar comes in the form of the Supreme Lord’s association, which is available through something as simple as a sound vibration: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

This verse passed on by Tulsidas is a sound vibration as well, and just through hearing it one can experience some of the same sweet bliss that the men and women of the town of Janakpur felt. What’s so wonderful about Rama’s image is that it really is like an ocean. The material ocean is full of suffering, so its vast length poses a formidable obstacle for the bewildered soul. On the other hand, the ocean of nectar produced by Rama’s association is full of bliss, so its unimaginable length is a welcome blessing that guarantees that there will be endless opportunities for happiness.

In Closing:

When elephants suffering in the heat,

For cool pond hurriedly make a beat.

 

Upon contact immediately refreshed,

Satisfaction that to them seems the best.

 

People of Janakpur for Rama were fond,

Sight of His image like dipping in nectar pond.

 

Reward from His contest of bow win,

Best pond for mind to forever remain in.

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