Thursday, December 5, 2013

Not For Me

Sita and Rama wedding“Looking at the bride and groom, they again and again gave away clothes and jewels in charity. There is no way to explain the happy feelings and jovial nature of that day.” (Janaki Mangala, 147)

nirakhi nichāvara karahi basana mani chinu chinu |
jāi na barani binoda modamaya so dinu ||

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God is one. There is not a separate God assigned to each region or a separate worshipable figure specific to which book you follow. Some may think in this way, that “their” God is different from everyone else’s, but in fact the same entity is described just in different terms. In the Vedas so many details are given about this singular divine entity. From these ancient works we learn that He is universal and that there are different ways to know Him. In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, we learn one way to recognize when His physically manifest form is within sight.

Imagine something good happening to you. Let’s say you just got a new job. You are so excited. No more do you have to work for the tyrant you’ve called a boss for the last many years. No more will you have to deal with his lying straight to your face. He tells you one thing today and something totally opposite the next. He tells you that he and the company have no money to spend on salaries, and yet he just purchased a brand new car. He didn’t need this one, either; it was just for fun.

Office cubiclesAt your new place of employment things will be different; at least you hope. To start this job you have to buy new clothes. You want to look good. To celebrate the switch, you want to take your friends and family out for a good time. From this example we see that when something good happens to you, you have to add possessions and expenses. Imagine that your good fortune is a wedding. Again, there is tremendous expense, with the added bonus of the worry over how to fill the brand new home. Even in modern times when the bride and groom often live together before marrying, there is never enough stuff; so the wedding provides a way to bring more things into one’s life.

Here we see the celebratory behavior unique to viewing the Supreme Lord and His beautiful eternal consort. The women gazing upon the just married couple are continuously distributing gifts of dresses and jewels. This was part of a marriage ceremony, and there wasn’t any running tally of the losses incurred. There also wasn’t an expectation of return from the gift. Seeing God makes you act this way. No longer are material possessions important. Better it is to part with those items, donating them to the deserving people of society. Why not donate some nice clothes and jewelry to people who don’t have much and who don’t really require much to be happy?

The recipients here weren’t expected to bring cash gifts to the wedding. They weren’t expected to give anything back. This didn’t matter to the women distributing the charity, for they were surrendered to Sita and Rama, who are the goddess of fortune and the Supreme Lord Himself. In Lakshmi, God has the most faithful and beautiful wife. As Narayana, the Supreme Lord is opulently adorned and worshiped in reverence. He is also known as the source of men. Thus Narayana is not a sectarian figure; He is not a God to be worshiped only by the Hindus.

The more one goes beyond the opulent aura of Narayana, the more the loving feelings within an individual can take over. As Sita and Rama, the same Lakshmi and Narayana appear in enchanting forms that evoke the natural penchant for service found within all of us. To serve them one need use only their mind. They don’t require money. They don’t require wealth. Objects can be used in service, for sure, as they are used here in distributing wealth. At the same time, the worshipers are not concerned over their personal fortunes. If you have the beautiful vision of Sita and Rama in front of you, you are naturally not attached to anything else.

Sita and RamaThe famous saints of the Vedic tradition provide further proof of this concept. None of them are known for their wealth, fame or number of possessions. In addition to their strong devotion, the example they set is of renunciation. The most knowledgeable of thinkers, who accepted supreme wisdom from their teachers and then further elucidated it in beautiful written word, lived on practically nothing. When their devotion was at its most mature stage in the eyes of others, the renunciation was quite pronounced. They didn’t require much in chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” They didn’t need so much money to maintain their writing and distribution of literature. Since they didn’t require so much, they didn’t have to work very hard to maintain a living. Absent the difficult labor that repeats day after day, their time was freed for worshiping God, which brings the most pleasure to any person.

Renunciation is superior to attachment to so many possessions. Thus from seeing Sita and Rama one reaches a better position automatically. This is one test for determining who is God and which activities are devotional. In a material existence, increased success brings increased burdens. In devotional life, the more one serves God, the more renounced they naturally become. They become extremely liberal in distributing gifts, including with the most wonderful gift of all: devotion.

In Closing:

New achievement I’ve got,

But free of burdens I’m not.

 

New items now must head to buy,

To celebrate also this achievement my.

 

When Supreme Lord’s vision to earn,

Mindset taking opposite turn.

 

Donating items, liberally to give,

When in bliss of devotion to live.

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