Monday, January 13, 2014

The Fruit of an Existence

Rama's younger brothers“Just as Rama was married, so the three brothers became married in the same way. Through all the rituals they were given the fruit of their lives and the fruit of their eyes.” (Janaki Mangala, 155)

rāma bibāha samāna bibāha tīniu bhae |
jīvana phala locana phala bidhi saba kahan dae ||

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If you see a new child emerge from the womb, typically you hope for good things for it. Especially if the child is yours, you want it to experience all that life has to offer. You want it to reach the ultimate objective. But what if you don’t know what that objective is? What if you have been searching for transcendence your whole life and have yet to find it? No need for panic, as the Vaishnava saints reveal to us the mature fruit to an existence. Within that existence are other gifts, such as eyes, ears, legs, a nose and a face. There are specific fruits tied to each of these things as well.

Bhagavad-gita, 4.34“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)

Shrila PrabhupadaIn the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna says to approach a spiritual master. “By inquiring from him submissively and rendering service unto him, the self-realized soul will impart knowledge unto you.” The specific qualification of the spiritual master mentioned here is that he has seen the truth, tattva darshinah. A byproduct of seeing the fruit is tasting it. I can see the pizza pie that’s fresh out of the oven sitting on the kitchen table, but that isn’t really experiencing it. I’ll only know the wonderful taste once I decide to eat part or all of that pie.

The spiritual master has tasted the fruit an existence has to offer because they took to serving the Truth after seeing it. This truth is absolute. It is beyond duality. As such, it is not the truth only for the Hindus. It is not the truth only for the intelligent. It is also not the truth only for the human beings. It is the truth in all time periods and all situations.

The living entities face dual conditions and circumstances. One child is born into wealth, considered to have a silver spoon in their mouth. Another child is born into poverty, living in squalor. One person is given the chance for a good education, while another is forced into difficult labor at a young age. Regardless the circumstances, the Absolute Truth can always be seen.

Hanuman worshiping RamaThe benefit of seeing Him is serving Him subsequently. Service takes place through one or all of nine different methods that belong to the discipline described as bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. Seeing the truth is one step, but serving Him is far superior. Following bhakti-yoga allows even the conditioned soul blinded by ignorance to one day see the truth. And hopefully from that vision their resolve in serving Him only becomes stronger. Shri Hanuman, likely the most famous of the deities of the Hindu tradition, saw God face to face. He saw the Absolute Truth in His incarnation as Shri Ramachandra. Hanuman then didn’t end his life. He didn’t consider his work to be done. In fact, he took even more initiative in serving the Supreme Lord, essentially pouncing on the opportunity.

That service is the true boon to an existence. In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, the people of the city of Janakpur all received the fruit that life has to offer. They accepted this wonderful gift through the performance of marriage rituals. Seems odd, for sure. After all, we’ve never been too keen on attending a marriage ceremony for someone we don’t know very well. Even if we know one of the parties, the other may be a mystery to us.

Here the people felt supreme love because the women getting married were daughters to the king and his younger brother. These princesses were like the children of the community. They were cared for and loved by everyone under the protection of King Janaka. The fruit of their lives came from the fact that these princesses got to marry Shri Rama and His three younger brothers. The wives were ideal in every way. They had beautiful features and the perfect behavior suitable for marriage. The men were ideal as well, chivalrous princes who never shirked responsibilities. They never were afraid to fight to defend righteousness and righteous people.

The loving sentiments of the people were a kind of offering. Thus this qualified as devotional service, which is the fruit to an existence. They also received the fruit of their eyes by witnessing the marriage ceremony. Just as we may wish to be temporarily deaf on days when there is a loud car alarm outside or someone sitting next to us chewing their food with their mouth open, depending on what we see sometimes we may wish to not have eyes. Just because we can see doesn’t mean that everything within our vision will be pleasant. Indeed, so many visions can be traumatic, things we wish to purge from our memory.

Sita and Rama marriage ceremonyThe fruit of having eyes is getting to see God. Seeing His marriage ceremony during His appearance on earth as an incarnation is the same as seeing Him. His absolute nature is passed on to those who serve Him as well. This explains why there is so much joy in meditating on pictures of Shri Hanuman, who is always involved in some kind of devotional service. Thanks to Goswami Tulsidas, here the mind can concentrate on the wonderful marriage ceremony for the four brothers and how everyone who witnessed it became supremely delighted.

In Closing:

New couples so much to adore,

Rejoicing in marriage ceremonies four.

 

Following love for God are the wise,

Divine vision the fruit of the eyes.

 

Rama married to Sita for all to see,

Janaka happily arranged for other three.

 

Basking in the vision so rare,

Blessed were all who were there.

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