“Other than you, who in the three worlds would even think of desiring me, for I am the wife of that pious-soul, as Shachi is to Indra?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 22.14)
māṃ hi dharmātmanaḥ patnīṃ śacīmiva śacīpateḥ |
tvadanyastriṣu lokeṣu prārthayenmanasāpi kaḥ ||
If you’ve spent enough time around drunk people, or have been one yourself on occasion, you surely have a few stories featuring stupid behavior. The internet is full of videos of drunkards making fools of themselves. Perhaps they mistook an area of an outdoor restroom for a sink. Maybe they tried to eat something that wasn’t meant for human consumption. Maybe they tried to talk to something that wasn’t animate. In all such cases there wasn’t sound thinking. The mind was somewhere else. Kama, which is the Sanskrit word for lust, can also have the same effect, as noted above by the beloved wife of the pious-souled Rama.
Kama can also mean desire. “I want ice cream. I want pizza. I want a pony.” These are desires. If you fulfill them, your kama is temporarily satisfied. Kama turns into lust when the desire is intense enough to take you off the righteous path. If I want ice cream enough to rob a store, I am under the influence of lust. If I want pizza so badly that I will eat it every day for an entire year, lust controls me.
“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.62)
Lust’s strongest influence is in the area of romance. From the ancient Sanskrit texts of India, we learn that there is a direct correlation between the control of lust and sobriety. The more you can control your temptations, the more soundly situated your mind will be. And who wouldn’t want to be of sound mind? Would we rather be stupid all the time? With intelligence we can do things that are good for us, even if they don’t seem to be so at the outset. School is an example of this. To the child school seems like a waste of time. It may even seem that way to the adult. With a sound mind, however, one can look past the immediate hardship and see the ultimate benefit an education has to offer.
Lust in romance is so strong that it can make you do ridiculous things. Case in point Ravana with Sita. At the time she graced this earth there was no internet. There was no printing press. Newspapers weren’t circulated around the world on a daily basis. And yet everyone still knew her. The word of mouth was very powerful. In order to remember a sacred event, poets would compose songs. Songs are easier to remember than paragraphs and books.
Through glorification of her wedding to the prince of Ayodhya, Sita was known throughout the world. She got the name Sita from having been found in the ground as a baby by King Janaka of Mithila. From marrying her, Rama too earned so many new names, which referenced His relationship to her. He became known as Sitapati and Janakinatha, both meaning “the lord of Sita,” who was Janaka’s daughter.
When she followed Rama to the forest for fourteen years, Sita’s fame increased. She became known as the most chaste wife. In modern terms she would be considered the most devoted lover. We say that we love someone today, but would we stay with that person after they rejected us strongly? Probably not. Sita’s love for Rama defined her. She would not leave His side, even if He kindly asked her to. She knew better than Rama what was good for Him, so Rama could do nothing to stop her from loving Him.
Though the world was well aware of her character, Ravana still tried to take her away and make her his wife. Sita was a little perplexed by this. She knew that no one else in the world would try this. Only Ravana, whose lust consumed him, would attempt something so foolish. It was the equivalent of taking the key to the office and trying to use it to open the front door of your house. It was like putting a USB cable into a Firewire port. Any example of trying to use something in a way that is not intended applies here.
Fortunately, the unsound mind can be very easily fixed. Rather than try to enjoy Sita for himself, if Ravana would have returned her to Rama, today there would be no end to his fortunes. Sita is the goddess of fortune and Rama the Supreme Lord. God appears in transcendental forms many times over the course of a creation. These appearances give a glimpse into His transcendental features, into the true meaning of nirguna, or without material attributes.
Sita stays in the heart of a devotee like Hanuman, whose mind is totally pure. Hanuman once accidentally saw Ravana’s many wives in their inner chambers of Ravana’s palace. This accident occurred during his search for Sita in Lanka, where the fiend Ravana had taken her. Though he saw these beautiful women, Hanuman’s mind did not change. He did not desire them, for he knew they were married to Ravana.
Alongside her husband Rama, Sita lives in Hanuman’s heart. This makes Hanuman very happy. Ravana could have roamed the world with impunity had he purified his heart. Instead, steered by lust he was headed for ruin, illustrating to everyone the destruction that uncontrolled kama brings. The wise souls know the secret in defeating this eternal enemy: devotion to God. By remembering Sita and Rama forever, lust loses all its power.
When in drunken stupor to sink,
To do oddest things you think.
Ketchup on ice cream to drop,
Calling all friends on phone nonstop.
King of Lanka’s actions just as dumb,
For world knew Sita of husband only one.
Lust even the strongest mind to steer,
In devotion this enemy never again to fear.