“Why is that your cruel, crooked, blackish and yellowish eyes do not fall to the ground while looking at me, O uncivilized one?” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 22.18)
ive te nayane krūte virūpe kṛṣṇapiṅgale |
kṣitau na patite kasmānmāmanārya nirīkṣataḥ ||
The term “anarya” used here by Sita Devi to address the vile Ravana is also used by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita when rebuking Arjuna for his sudden departure from the righteous path. The relationship between Sita and Ravana is vastly different than the one between Krishna and Arjuna, and yet we find mention of the same word. This means that not knowing the value of life can lead to different types of behavior, all of which are equally as harmful.
“The Supreme Person [Bhagavan] said: My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the progressive values of life. They do not lead to higher planets, but to infamy.” (Bhagavad-gita, 2.2)
In Arjuna’s case, there was compassion for an opposing army on the eve of a war. Arjuna belonged to the warrior class of men. More than anything, they are to be courageous in defending righteousness. Not everyone is up to fighting. Indeed, the “anti-bullying” movement aims to stamp out all violence in schools. The idea is that fighting is never good. There is never a reason to hit someone. The concept may work well in utopia, but in the real world it is not so practical. What if someone else doesn’t want to listen to the command? What if they insist on violence? Are others supposed to lay down and accept it?
The side opposing Arjuna’s was very aggressive. They took land that belonged to Arjuna and his brothers. They also tried to kill his family several times. War was a last resort. Arjuna and his brothers were justified in raising conflict, but still just before the commencement of battle they were reluctant. Arjuna was concerned for the bodily welfare of the opposing side. Arjuna knew that he had a really good chance of winning.
This was considered non-Aryan behavior. Though the word “Aryan” has a negative connotation today due to its misuse by fanatical groups of recent times, originally it just means one who is cultured. One who knows the value of life is considered Aryan. The value of life is to be God conscious, which is not easy. Within that culture there is attention to duty. The foundational principle of a true Aryan is that they know they are not their body. They know they are spirit, and that when they do act on the bodily plane they do so to maintain the spiritual progression. A violent person endangers the chance for society to function properly. In a cultured society, everyone makes advancement towards the goal of life, though they may be unaware. The advancement is obviously helped by staying alive, so to protect against aggressors, the warrior class is necessary.
Arjuna was willing to abandon his duty in favor of cheap sentiment. Whether the opposing side would die or live, it would have no bearing on their existence. The soul lives on. Consider the worst tragedy of recent times. It’s painful to think of the victims losing their lives, but it should be known that they live on. They have not ceased to exist. From knowing that no one really dies or takes birth, the wise choose righteousness. At least then the chances for God consciousness increase; one is happiest in that state.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Ravana is also addressed as anarya. He too had affection that was based on a bodily designation. Arjuna is considered a hero, a good guy. He is a close friend of Lord Krishna, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Ravana is the bad guy’s bad guy. He is an enemy of God. As both were once addressed as anarya, it means that Ravana’s affection based on bodily designation was just as indicative of a fall from the proper way of life as was Arjuna’s.
With dark-yellow eyes, which were crooked and cruel, he lustily gazed upon Sita, the beautiful wife of Lord Rama. Rama is the same Krishna but in a different visible manifestation appearing at a different time in the creation. Rama was well-respected during His time, even by enemies. Ravana had fallen so far from the civilized culture that he considered Rama to be weak. He thought he could take Rama’s wife without a problem. While others gave all respect to Sita, appreciating her unwavering devotion to her dear husband, Ravana wanted to enjoy her association in an unsanctioned manner.
Therefore Sita naturally wondered why his eyes had not fallen to the ground. Though both were addressed as anarya, Arjuna reformed himself by accepting the counsel of Krishna. Indeed, Arjuna is a liberated associate, always with Krishna wherever He is. Due to the Lord’s will to have the Bhagavad-gita propagated throughout society and future generations, He arranged to have Arjuna temporarily show ignorance of the Aryan culture.
Ravana was offered sound words of advice as well, though they weren’t nearly as detailed as the ones offered by Krishna. They didn’t have to be, as all Ravana had to do was return Sita to Rama. Then he would be considered a hero, a reformed criminal. Sadly, he didn’t accept her advice, proving that he was not to know the true value of life until God directly took everything away with His arrows at the time of death.
True value of life not knowing,
Into ignorance anarya going.
Arjuna once with this word addressed,
And also Ravana, who propriety transgressed.
Arjuna accepted wisdom, acquiring fame,
Sadly Ravana’s fate not to be the same.
Not until by Rama’s arrows shot,
Ravana to know that God he was not.