“You can see the love they have for each other, which they try to keep secret. Knowingly they erect a collection of stable pillars made of goodness within their hearts.” (Janaki Mangala, 85)
prema pramoda paraspara pragaṭata gopahiṃ |
janu hiradaya guna grāma thūni thira ropahiṃ ||
In an area that is more or less undeveloped, when you see a series of pillars placed in the ground, indicating that construction is going on, you know that some type of building is going up. The pillar goes with the foundation, and in order for it to serve its purpose it must be stable and remain in good standing [no pun intended] for quite some time. The pillars are not something to be knocked down right away. Ideally, they should last a very long time, providing stability to the building’s occupants. Such stable pillars were erected within the hearts of two lovely souls ready to embark on a lifetime’s journey together. The construction was seen not through yellow tape or hard hats, but through the looks they gave each other.
The pillars were made of goodness, or guna, which can also mean virtue. The more goodness you have inside of you the better. You hear the expression, “that person is just a good soul,” which means that “good” has a higher presence within their body than “bad.” It is very easy for the bad side to dominate. You just have to look at someone else to give rise to bad feelings. “Oh look at them. They think they are so great. They’re really not. My stuff is better. Plus, even if they have more stuff, they are just wasting their money. I’m more intelligent with my expenditures. I don’t need all that stuff to be happy. I’m not so materialistic.”
It’s harder to see the good in everything around us, especially in other people. It is for this reason that the highest transcendentalist in the Vedic tradition is known as a paramahamsa. The most elevated religionist if you will, the person who practices spirituality as it is meant to be practiced, does not suddenly find more and more people to tag as sinners. They do not find more and more people to criticize and make feel bad. Rather, the perfect transcendentalist is compared to a supreme swan. The swan is unique in its ability to separate milk from a mixture of milk and water. Basically, it grabs the essential item, the nectar if you will, out of something that isn’t pure.
“If we give a swan milk mixed with water, the swan will take the milk and leave aside the water. Similarly, this material world is made of two natures - the inferior nature and the superior nature. The superior nature means spiritual life, and the inferior nature is material life. Thus a person who gives up the material part of this world and takes only the spiritual part is called paramahamsa.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Teachings of Queen Kunti, Ch 3)
The supreme swan of a transcendentalist sees the good in everything. They know that God’s energy is everywhere, and that not even a blade of grass can move without His sanction. They are not Pollyannaish or unreasonably happy. They know that karma works on everything, and so there isn’t a pressing need to look at everything negatively. After all, every individual is a spirit soul, part and parcel of God. Eventually they will make their way towards enlightenment, even if it takes them many lifetimes. To preach to others, to give them instruction on how to remove all bad from within and acquire all goodness, the paramahamsa temporarily steps down from their lofty position to make distinctions, but all the while they maintain their pure goodness on the inside.
One way to foster that goodness on the inside, to erect pillars of good qualities within the heart, so much so that it looks like you have a neighborhood full of sturdy buildings made of goodness, is to hear about God and His pastimes. One of His most famous pastimes is His lifting of the illustrious bow belonging to Lord Shiva. This occurred in the kingdom of Janakpur, where a contest was taking place. At the time the Supreme Lord was there in His incarnation of Shri Ramachandra, the eldest son of King Dasharatha. Lord Rama is God based on His qualities, which are described in the Vedic texts. He is not a pseudo-incarnation created on a whim after the fact. His appearance and activities were described before they took place by Maharishi Valmiki, a self-realized soul, a paramahamsa in his own right.
The purpose of the contest was to find a husband for King Janaka’s daughter Sita. The problem was that none of the kings could even move the bow. Rama was there as a guest with His younger brother Lakshmana and the sage Vishvamitra. Though a guest, He was eligible to participate in the contest, and when Sita and Rama saw each other, sparks started to fly internally. Just from looking at one another, pure love began to grow. They tried to keep this a secret, however, but others could tell what was going on. There was no hiding it, though neither party made any outward gesture.
The love was growing within their hearts. Goswami Tulsidas compares it to erecting a network of pillars made of virtue or goodness. This love was there to stay; it wasn’t going anywhere. The only people leaving dejected on this day were the rival princes who had come to try to win Sita. Rama would lift the bow with ease and complete the construction of the buildings of goodness through wedding Sita in a grand ceremony.
How can hearing about this incident fill our hearts with goodness? Envy, especially of God, is the root cause of our residence in the material world. The envy we feel towards others indicates a lack of spiritual awareness. Think about it for a second. If someone else has more money than you, why should you feel threatened? They still have to eat. They still feel the sting of defeat. They still hanker for things. They also have to die. If you can eat just fine, why does it matter if someone else is better off financially? Since you know how difficult life in the material world is, shouldn’t you be happy that someone else might be able to find some relief from the daily pressures?
Only through knowing the self, which is completely spiritual, can you get rid of envy, lust, greed, anger and all other negative emotions. To know God is to know the self, for He is the Supreme Soul, or the Superself. He is the origin of both matter and spirit, and so if you learn about Him as best you can, you will know yourself too. And when you know yourself, you will know others, and pretty soon you will see that we are all in the same boat, trying to find our way to eternal happiness.
Simply from hearing the Janaki Mangala, we can know God so well. He is very strong, pious, and kind. He also loves Sita, His eternal pleasure potency, very much. She loves Him without deviation, and He loves her back. Know that He always loves us too, and His mercy is already available to us in so many ways. Through regularly chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” we can start to take advantage of that mercy.
When looks at each other start,
Pillars erected in the heart.
Of goodness they are made,
Of strength never to fade.
Shiva’s bow in His hand to take,
Sita His beloved wife to make.
From this God’s nature revealed to you,
Gives insight into nature of yourself too.