Tuesday, December 3, 2013

To Do Good For All

Raining flowers“As the marriage ceremony happened like this, the three worlds were in happiness. The munis gave their blessings and the demigods rained down flowers.” (Janaki Mangala, 145)

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ehi bidhi bhayo bivāha uchāha tihūm̐ pura |
dehiṃ asīsa munīsa sumana baraṣahiṃ sura ||

“Good luck.” It is common to say this to someone else, as it is a kind gesture. When opponents are set to square off in a competition, they may say this to be polite. In fact, the good fortune is not really desired. If the opponent indeed gets fortune in their favor, it doesn’t redound well for the other side. If one side gets a fortuitous bounce that is beneficial, it is not beneficial for the other side. With one person in particular good luck always benefits all. This applies to His wife as well, and so during a famous marriage the three worlds rejoiced, and those who could grant good fortune were more than happy to shower their blessings on the new husband and wife.

The celestials can grant boons. Think of it like asking Mother Nature to be kind. “Please pour down some rain for my farm. This land is my livelihood. I work so hard to make sure crops can grow. The final piece of the puzzle is the rain, which I know only you are responsible for. If you make it rain, I will be so pleased. I will honor you every day with my thoughts.”

Saints can also grant boons. Think of it like getting the blessings of a priest or religious person. They have a preferred status since they dedicate their life to serving God. They are not interested in worldly pursuits. Sure, they could get a job in the marketplace if they wanted to. Then they could haggle over salary and benefits, looking to move up every few years so that their lot improves. Instead, they choose a life of service to God. This is a sacrifice, one for which so many others are benefitted. Getting the blessings of such saintly people is always good.

Praying handsThen there is the issue of who is eligible for the blessings. If a sinful person wants boons from celestials, should they get them? If someone is intent on breaking into an innocent person’s home and stealing their things, should the person in authority hand over the money necessary to carry out the crime? The criminal considers the money a great blessing, and the person beseeched is surely capable of providing it. In this case whatever auspiciousness is granted is limited; it is not absolute.

The saintly person can also give blessings to someone who doesn’t deserve it. The recipient could then use those blessings as an excuse for sinful behavior. “Oh, such and such person died for my sins. Therefore I can do whatever I want. I can kill animals, lie, cheat, steal, and have sex with anyone, even outside the bounds of marriage. I am absolved since I have the blessings of this high personality.”

Duality was absent in the case of the blessings showered upon Sita and Rama. The divine couple is benevolent to all. They are more than just saintly. They are also more than just powerful. As Sita is the goddess of fortune originally, she can donate any amount of wealth to any person. Rama is the Supreme Lord originally, so He is the owner of all matter. He can grant any material benediction to anyone very easily. Rama is beyond duality, so He knows that sometimes a material benediction can turn out to be a curse. Consider getting a drum set for Christmas as a kid. You think it’s great since you can play drums all the time, but the noise will really bother your parents.

Drum setSita and Rama are benevolent to all through their association. They are the best friends anyone could ask for. Do we not prefer to spend time with good people? Who wants to be around misers, cheats, frauds, liars and obnoxious blowhards? No one is kinder than Sita and Rama. Sita especially is of the highest character, and no sin exists in her. Rama is the same way, but since He takes on the role of a warrior sometimes it appears that He does things which are unkind. He prefers to fight from time to time against wicked characters, and so the wives of the slain foes then lament their loss. But even this is beneficial, as death at the hands of Rama is glorious. The wives share in the meritorious end of their husbands, and so Rama gives everyone a boon even through His ferocious form shown on the battlefield.

In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, Goswami Tulsidas describes the emotions of the world right after the rites had concluded at the marriage ceremony of Sita and Rama. He says that the three worlds were in happiness. The earth was certainly happy, as so many of its inhabitants had gathered in Janakpur to witness the beautiful ceremony. Residents of the heavenly realm were thrilled as well, as Rama was their life and soul. Sita was dear to Rama, so she was automatically dear to them too. Even the residents of the hellish realm were thrilled, as every person, no matter how far sunken they are in consciousness, retains a link to the Divine, for that is in their constitutional makeup.

The munis, or sages, gave their blessings very liberally. This wasn’t required, but it kept in line with tradition. Sita and Rama usually grant benedictions, as they are in the superior position. But it is still very nice to be able to wish them well. This practice is unique to bhakti-yoga, showing another way in which it stands above all other kinds of yoga. In bhakti you pray for God to do well, for Him to have good luck. His luck is in the form of Sita’s association. The couple is always together, but sometimes the devotees worry that they may have to be separated. The young child might pray for the parents’ safety prior to falling asleep at night, though the parents are the ones who are charged with maintaining the children. The child’s love explains the sentiment.

Sita and RamaThe love of the sages explains their liberal distribution of blessings upon Sita and Rama. The celestials once again rained down flowers, giving their approval to the proceedings. All were joyful on that day, which is one that can be celebrated infinitely into the future through the timeless works of saints like Goswami Tulsidas.

In Closing:

Faced with so many difficult a task,

So for benefits Supreme Lord you ask.

 

This reward and that to me please give,

Then forever in happiness will I live.

 

Of all yogas bhakti stands unique,

Because fortune for God you seek.

 

Like with beloved Sita and Rama being wed,

Sages blessed, celestials dropping flowers’ bed.

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