“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 ||
If you really care about someone, you will give it to them straight. If you know they are heading down the wrong path, instead of turning a blind eye, you will deliver the cold, hard facts to them. Since you wish only the best for them, you correct them when they veer off the righteous path. In Lanka a long time ago, it was obvious that there was no one who was a real well-wisher of the king, as no one prevented him from following the road to peril.
If you have a young child and you see them about to stick their finger into an electrical socket, will you just sit idly by? Will you allow them to drink a poisonous chemical that is kept safely underneath the sink in the kitchen? Will you encourage their drinking and smoking at a young age? Will you not say something when they fail to do their homework on time?
These questions are worth asking because of the expected resistance in opposition. If you prevent the child from touching the electrical socket, the child will not be happy. They will try to do the same thing again, and you will have to prevent them again. Pretty soon you are viewed as a tyrant, someone who prohibits fun. The same goes for taking steps to prevent underage drinking, smoking, and neglect of school responsibilities.
When you really care about someone, you will not let the reception deter you. After all, what does it matter if someone doesn’t like you for speaking the truth? Especially if you are speaking true words for the other person’s benefit, there is no reason to be upset by any harsh rebuke you receive in the aftermath.
The bona fide guru desires only the best for everyone. Their mercy is not expensive, and anyone can take advantage of it. Those who aim to get the real benefit are then known as disciples, either formal or informal. To be a disciple one must have discipline, and this entails following the instructions of the spiritual master. The guru’s guidance here is for achieving the highest end in life. The guru is interested in the true welfare of their dependents.
The welfare does not relate to money. Any person can do well in business after applying a little work. The welfare is not for furthering relations with the opposite sex. Some are able to attract beautiful partners and others are not. The welfare does not relate to having a life full of enjoyments, both at home and at work. Those enjoyments come about on their own. Like the onset of summer and winter, each individual goes through ups and downs. One second we are successful and the next we are not. One day we are happy and the next we are sad.
“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)
The highest welfare is consciousness of God. He is the sum total, the origin of everything we can think of. If He is everything, then He would have to be capable of granting any material reward to any of His dependents. These rewards pale in comparison to God’s association itself, however. Therefore the guru targets the reward of association for his disciples. He knows that associating with God is the best thing for any person. That association can be in various moods, but devotion is the common thread. The devotion is what maintains that association once it is gained.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Sita wonders whether there is anyone who wishes the highest welfare for Ravana, the king. This relates to both spiritual and material. Since Ravana had taken Sita away from her husband and refused to give her back, he was obviously inimical towards God. Rather than desire God’s association, he wanted to compete with Him. Since no one can defeat God, Ravana thought he could enjoy with His wife. This will ruin anyone’s chance at association. And, as mentioned previously, that association is the highest gain.
Ravana’s reprehensible act also damaged his material fortunes. If his advisers in his kingdom were averse to devotional service, they still should have prevented Ravana based on Rama’s strength alone. As the husband of the goddess of fortune, Shri Rama is full of opulences, with one of them being strength. As Ravana took His wife away, Rama was surely to come and exact revenge. He would destroy Ravana’s opulent kingdom in Lanka.
There were a few counselors in Lanka who advised against Ravana’s plan of taking Sita in secret. Ravana didn’t listen to them, and so there was nothing they could do. In front of Sita no such protest was present, and so she had no choice but to think that the city was devoid of genuine well-wishers. In this present age, thankfully there is the timeless vani, or instruction, of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to take advantage of. His sincere disciples and well-wishers continue to spread his teachings throughout the world, giving us words of wisdom that provide the ultimate benediction in life, God’s association.
From king’s actions Sita could tell,
That none in kingdom wished him well.
Others why allowed Maricha to be sent,
Why secret action not to prevent?
Desires the well-wisher real,
That association with God to feel.
Since enmity with Rama to keep,
Punishment his kingdom to reap.