Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Keeping The Heart Calm

[Rama's lotus feet]“Then to Rama and His brothers Janaka requested many times. With tears in his eyes and a throat choked up, he tried to keep his heart calm.” (Janaki Mangala, 175)

bhāinha sahita bahori binaya raghubīrahi |
gadagada kanṭha nayana jala ura dhari dhīrahiṃ ||

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It’s a common scene. A famous athlete has decided to hang it up. The decision wasn’t easy. Once he ruled the sport. He was the leading scorer, the most valuable player, and accustomed to hoisting the championship trophy. Writers were in competition with one another to be the first to tag him as the “greatest of all-time.” But that same time went to work on his skills. Eventually, his abilities diminished to the point that he was no longer valuable enough to keep on a team.

[Jerry Rice retirement]A press conference is scheduled where the player is expected to announce their retirement. They step up to the microphone, offer a few pleasantries, and then explain why it is they no longer will compete in the sport that has been their life since a very young age. Though they try, at one point they begin to shed tears. “I promised so and so I wouldn’t do this,” they say, as they fight back the tears and the choked throat. But the moment is too intense for them to hold back. They think of all the sacrifices others made for them. They think of all that they will miss. Though they never cry otherwise, at that moment they cannot hold back.

Indeed, others feel similarly helpless in situations specific to their lives. When they least expect it, as if they have no control over their body, they begin to shed tears. King Janaka faced that a long time ago, except his loss of control was rooted in love for the person each one of us has loved deep inside for the longest time. The individual can be identified best by the spirit soul residing within the body. Though that is the last thing with which we choose to identify, it is the only force that remains steady. We have difficulty realizing it is there until it finally leaves, at the time of death.

All of the individual’s emotions are rooted in the soul’s natural love for God. Hatred, envy, anger and the like are the inverse of the loving propensity. Like an upside down mirror, they still belong to the same source as the converse emotions of affection, kindness, and attachment. When pure love for God reawakens, there is ecstasy. That emotion is so strong that it is impossible to control. It rushes in like a tidal wave, especially when one is in the presence of the loveable object, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

[Lord Rama]Here Janaka is bidding adieu to Shri Rama and His three younger brothers. All four were just married through Janaka’s arrangement. Thus they are leaving home and taking with them the precious daughters dear to the community of Janakpur. In this verse from the Janaki Mangala it is said that Janaka is constantly requesting Rama. His throat is choked up and tears fill his eyes, and he tries to keep his heart steady. If you don’t have control over your emotions, how will you speak? If you’re overcome with intense affection, it will be difficult for the words to come out.

Janaka steadied himself enough to make his heartfelt plea to Rama, asking that He always remember them. Unlike the individual living entity, God is without flaw. He never falls down. He never fails to deliver on something needed for the devotee. Since His presence within the consciousness is the most important boon anyone could ask for, it is granted immediately upon request. Especially when someone as pious and respected as Janaka asks, the gift remains manifest all the time, never to be hidden away through a temporary fall into the material ocean of attachment, aversion, greed, selfishness and envy.

Just as Janaka fought his emotions to make his kind request to the Supreme Lord standing in front of him, the devoted souls who always chant the holy names have a difficult time keeping their emotions in check. Just hearing the name “Rama” brings to mind the dearest son of King Dasharatha. When they hear the name again, they remember how happy He made Janaka by winning the contest of the bow. They have trouble keeping the tears from coming when they remember Rama’s dearest wife Sita, who is the beloved daughter of Janaka.

[Mother Yashoda with Krishna]When they hear the name “Krishna” they think of the darling of Vrindavana, who roamed this earth as the affectionate son of mother Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja. They get choked up thinking about how He transformed a humble fruit vendor’s products into jewels when they made a kind offering to Him. The name brings to mind the famous lecture on all matters of life that Krishna gave on the battlefield to the distressed warrior Arjuna. The name reminds them of the shelter Krishna provides through lifting giant mountains like Govardhana.

As the name brings so much joy, it is no wonder that the heart has a difficult time remaining calm in the presence of the Supreme Lord, who is non-different from His names. So many names are there to keep the devoted soul always in ecstasy, and so these souls never tire of reciting those names. Janaka was able to make his requests, and Rama immediately granted them. In the same way, Rama immediately comes to the souls who chant His names in a pure way.

In Closing:

So much potency in holy name,

To Supreme Lord it is the same.

 

Just by one time purely saying,

Pastimes in mind start playing.

 

As Rama and brothers to leave ready,

Janaka made requests, keeping heart steady.

 

Of pure souls wish immediately to grant,

To deny King Janaka and others He can’t.

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