“Indeed, there is no person here who desires your welfare, no one to stop you from these reprehensible acts.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 22.13)
nūnam na te janaḥ kaścidasti niḥśreyase sthitaḥ |
nivārayati yo na tvāṃ karmaṇo.asmādvigarhitāt ||
Devotion to God is at the very core of the living being. It is part of their constitution. For this reason real religion goes by the term “sanatana-dharma.” To serve God with full vim and vigor is the essential characteristic of every fragment of spirit for all of eternity. Both backwards and forwards in the time continuum, the individual feels happiest when serving. When assuming the constitutional position in full, devoid of impurities, that service can be practiced in even the most adverse conditions.
If you spend an entire day watching movies, the next day you will likely talk about it with others. There is the off chance that you won’t see anyone on a particular day, but your mind still works. It will contemplate on what was observed the previous day. If there is conversation, you can’t help but talk about the movies. If the other person isn’t so receptive, you may halt for a little bit, but if you immerse yourself in the film culture for long enough, you can’t really avoid talking about it.
In the same way, if one is fixed in serving God, they can’t talk about anyone or anything else. As a shadow following a bright lamp, knowledge accompanies that pure devotion. This means that the person consumed with loving thoughts of the Supreme Personality of Godhead will automatically be knowledgeable. Therefore if they see injustice, they will not only know how to right the wrong, but they will not be afraid to speak the truth; it will be second nature to behave this way.
Their words of wisdom will be forthcoming even if the circumstances are not ideal. We can think of it like doing basic things such as taking a shower and cooking. You need to bathe in order to clean your body every day. In the summer months this isn’t really a problem. The temperature is more in line with the body’s. The winter is a different story. It’s hard to get out of bed on a very cold morning. Leaving the safety of the covers immediately invites a cold front. Then the first few minutes of taking a shower are difficult, as are the moments immediately after.
In the winter months it might not be so difficult to cook. After all, the appliances in the kitchen provide heat. The warm soup and the carefully nursed beverage are ways to get comfort from the chilling cold. In the summer, things aren’t as easy. Who wants to stand in front of a raging fire when it is already hot inside the house? Who wants to sweat even more just so they can eat a certain kind of food?
In both situations the “show must go on,” as they say. You have to get out of bed and take a shower in the winter. You have to prepare food in the summer. The weather is no excuse. In Lanka a long time ago, the weather in terms of conditions and association was always bad for the princess of Videha. She was taken away from the side of her husband through trickery and force. Her new residence was a land where everyone despised her husband.
If one is not so religiously inclined, they may not be able to relate to having to stay at a place where everyone hates God. Still, we can use the loving relationship as a reference for understanding. Imagine if you were at some place where everyone hated your significant other and that significant other meant the world to you. Would you not be unhappy? If you were forced to remain there, would you not worry about the future?
Sita, the daughter of King Janaka, faced such conditions. Though she was worried, she did not stop speaking the truth. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, she notes how no one in Lanka is a true well-wisher to Ravana, the king of the land. This is because no one seems to be stopping him from his despicable actions. First he took Sita away in secret, and now he is threatening to kill her if she doesn’t come over to his side.
They say that the pioneers take the arrows. If you are the first person to discover something or succeed in it, so many others will attack you. You become a prime target due to your notoriety. Here Sita is a pioneer in the sense that she is the first one to offer wise advice to Ravana without reservation. Love for God is what defines her. Her husband is the Supreme Lord in His avatara as a warrior prince. She cannot act any other way. Her knowledge is secondary to her bhakti. If she sees someone doing the wrong thing, she will speak the truth to them.
In Ravana’s case the truth had to be delivered straight, without any apologies. Sita took all the arrows in the form of the torture directed by Ravana’s grim-visaged female attendants. Rama’s fearless servant, Shri Hanuman, was watching all of this perched on a tree in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. He saw Sita’s resolve amidst the trying circumstances, and he used it as further motivation to succeed in the mission handed to him by Rama. He too was a pioneer in infiltrating Lanka and going against the authority of its king. Since they had devotion on their side, both Sita and Hanuman emerged successful.
In prime discovery to make,
Pioneers then arrows to take.
Others their position to see,
To criticize and target they’re free.
Giving real wisdom to king of deeds worst,
Sita wise counselor of Lanka’s first.
Despite shots Sita on righteous path to stay,
Rama’s messenger with help soon on the way.