Monday, April 28, 2014

Ranging In Darkness

[Shri Hanuman]“It is not proper to speak with her while visible to the night-rangers. So now how am I supposed to proceed? I am indeed in great difficulty.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.11)

niśā carīṇām pratyakṣam akṣamam ca abhibhāṣaṇam |
katham nu khalu kartavyam idam kṛcchra gato hi aham ||

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“Have you ever wondered how we got here? Not just what caused our present birth in the present circumstances, but why there are people in the world at all? Why there is life? Why are there cats, dogs, trees, insects, birds, beasts and the like? And why are the human beings more intelligent than the rest? Why do they stand the tallest in terms of intelligence? And where do we go after we die? We’re all destined to die, so it’s a legitimate question to ask. It seems foolish to me to ignore the question, as if it’s a topic no one should ever discuss. Won’t we feel sad when our loved ones pass on? Won’t we feel scared when we can feel that the end is near? So why postpone that concern and that thought? Why not ask the tough questions now?

“While the common response we get to these questions is that faith covers these topics, in the Vedas there is some interesting detail provided. For starters, the Vedas are believed to be the oldest scriptural tradition in the world. Their original teachings are preserved in the Sanskrit language, which is the oldest known to man. In other famous texts, you can read the books, but they have been translated and changed many times over. In the Vedas we still have the original ancient sound vibrations, including the summary of Vedic teachings known as the Bhagavad-gita.

[Writing Vedic literature]“These teachings certainly bear similarities to others. You know, worship God and stuff, be a good person and all that. However, there is a cause given for the creation. The living entities are inherently jealous of God. At least that is the case with those residing in the earthly realm. This was a far out concept to me the first time I heard it. For starters, I myself had never thought of envying someone I didn’t know much about. But the more I learned about these teachings, the more I practiced some of the recommended principles for breaking out of the cycle of birth and death, more commonly known as reincarnation, the more the truth started revealing itself to me.

“Think about it this way. If you go up to your friends and praise some famous athlete, they may not object. Perhaps they will have a different opinion, but they will not be utterly repulsed by the subject. Talk to them about politics, the news, science, history, philosophy, the latest movies and television shows - any of these things and you’ll be on safe ground. Now, as soon as you mention God, the reaction changes. ‘Why are you preaching to me? I don’t need to hear about this. You’re telling me that God has a plan, but then why does He let some people die in horrible accidents? That’s what your faith tells you, but my faith says something different. Who are we to reconcile anyway? Religion should be separated from science; it has no place in that discussion.’

“The widespread disdain for religion certainly substantiates the truth of the origin of the creation relating to envy. However, it also makes it very difficult to spread information about this truth. Who will want to hear these relevant philosophical points? Who will want to hear about how to stop the cycle of birth and death, when by man’s very flawed desire they are essentially asking to stay in it? It certainly presents a challenging situation.”

This basically sums up the mindset of the devoted soul who knows the truth about the origin of the creation and all matters descending therefrom. The material world can be thought of as a place of darkness, which is represented by ignorance. It can be fully illuminated in my room, with the sun shining bright in the sky and the light entering the room through all the open windows, but I could still be in ignorance. The light itself doesn’t mean that there isn’t darkness in terms of knowledge.

[sunlight]When man is very envious of a person who has all wealth, all strength, all knowledge, all renunciation, all beauty, and all fame, he will not want to hear any praise of such a person. This situation was personified in the predicament of Shri Hanuman referenced above. Here he is in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. Aesthetically it was a very beautiful place. It had wonderful looking trees that were full of flowers and leaves. Residing in that grove was the princess of Videha, Sita Devi. She was there against her will, taken by force by the king of Lanka, Ravana. Hanuman was on assignment to learn of her location and report back to Sita’s husband Rama, who was looking for her.

In seeing her distress, Hanuman wants to console her. Therefore here he deliberates on how best to go about doing that. The first problem is that Sita is surrounded by female night-rangers. These were human-like creatures who had no values whatsoever. They would eat even human flesh, so where was the question of kindness, compassion, or honesty? If they saw Hanuman, they would alert Ravana and his mighty warriors in Lanka. That would foil the whole mission, as Hanuman had yet to be spotted.

So Hanuman was in great uncertainty as to how to proceed. In the end he would choose to speak of the glories of Rama. Still, he only did so in a place where the night-rangers couldn’t hear him. This explains the traditional practice of only revealing the science of self-realization to devoted souls. Why speak to a hostile audience all the time? You wouldn’t trust an untrained passenger to fly the airplane, would you? You wouldn’t put a drunkard who doesn’t know the first thing about right and wrong in the office of the presidency to lead the nation. So why should you share the most important information with those who are envious of God? It is never a good combination, for they will then mangle the message. They will distort the meaning. Indeed, it is only through such unfortunate sharing of information that we get the nonsense theories of today that say that God is ultimately impersonal, an energy of void, or an ordinary personality who is subject to birth and death.

Bhagavad-gita, 7.24“Unintelligent men, who know Me not, think that I have assumed this form and personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is changeless and supreme.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.24)

[Lord Krishna]Still, the Vaishnava saints are so kind in the modern age that they actively seek out the non-envious souls. They do this by regularly chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” avoiding intimate association with the non-devoted, and happily sharing the glories of Shri Rama and Shri Krishna with those who are sincerely interested in acquiring knowledge. As the ideal Vaishnava, Hanuman found a way to overcome his predicament and succeed in spreading the message of Godhead, bringing some consolation to the woman who certainly deserved it.

In Closing:

As none here in God believe,

How much of light to receive?

 

By practicing recommended principles since,

Of the truth now I’m fully convinced.

 

Others too the truth should know,

To find the non-envious thus I’ll go.

 

So much comfort in this way to give,

Like with Hanuman, his triumph relive.

 

In Lanka the princess Sita was found,

Resolved to offer news of Rama abound.

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