Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Ecstasy of Gold

[Sita Devi]“That same lady, for whom thousands upon many thousands of monkeys have been searching everywhere, in all directions, has been found by me.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.3)

yām kapīnām sahasrāṇi subahūni ayutāni ca |
dikṣu sarvāsu mārgante sā iyam āsāditā mayā ||

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In the famous American Western film, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, a motley band of characters desperately goes in search of a prize of gold. Sort of like a treasure hunt spanning a vast area, when one of the characters finally finds the spot where they believe the gold is hidden, they run around in joy. In the background the famous score by Ennio Morricone titled The Ecstasy of Gold plays. The composition is befitting the occasion, for it attempts to match the sentiment of the desperate seeker who has seemingly won against all odds. In the scene of the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, the seeker has found something much more than gold. And the search was done by many more than a few, and at far greater a range. And so the seeker’s ecstasy was increased a thousand fold. He kept an eye on the grave responsibility at the same time.

[Scene from The Good The Bad and The Ugly]Imagine if you were told to search for something very valuable in a small area. The same task is given to a few others. Naturally, if you are the person to find the item first, you will feel a little humbled. “I can’t believe I’m the one to find it. All those other people searched as well. They employed their best tactics, using all of their intelligence. How is it that I am the one to find it? My fortune must be so great. No one is luckier than me, for I have hit pay dirt first.”

For Shri Hanuman, the search was for the most valuable item in the world, the personification of all fortune. There was a lady who had gone missing. She was the wife of the prince of Ayodhya. Though a fact not known to all, she was actually the goddess of fortune, the eternal consort of the personal God. As we are all individuals who can feel, will and think, so the origin of everything is a personality in His complete feature. He is a male in that He enjoys everything that He creates. The enjoyed is thus female. The most enjoyable object for the Supreme Lord is His eternal consort, who goes by names such as Shri, Lakshmi, Radha and Sita.

Here Shri Hanuman has found Sita. Thousands upon thousands of monkeys were sent to look for her. These were all Hanuman’s friends. They lived together in the forest land of Kishkindha. They were hiding on Mount Rishyamukha just prior because of a clash between the two leading monkeys, Sugriva and Vali, who were brothers. Shri Rama, in search for Sita, met up with Hanuman, who then brokered a friendship between Sugriva and Rama. Sugriva then dispatched his entire army of monkeys to look for Sita.

They searched in all the directions and in all spaces. They left no stone unturned, as the saying goes. Therefore Hanuman feels extremely humbled and amazed that of all the searching monkeys, and of all the places searched, he has found Sita in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. In all his humility, he couldn’t believe his good fortune, though Rama and Sugriva were confident that if anyone were to find Sita, it would be Hanuman.

“Sugriva in particular broached the subject of finding Sita with Hanuman, for he was convinced that Hanuman, the best among monkeys, was capable of accomplishing the desired purpose.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 44.1)

[Hanuman]More than just reviewing his good fortune, Hanuman here reminds himself of the gravity of the situation. He has found Sita, who was very hard to find. Therefore he can’t now screw up the mission. He must decide what to do next. He heard her being harassed by female ogres of wicked faces. Those creatures were ordered to torture Sita into submission. The vile king of the land, Ravana, had taken Sita there against her will, in secret. She would not submit to his demands to become his chief queen, and so the king employed other tactics.

Hanuman could have easily left and returned with the information of Sita’s whereabouts to give to Rama. But he wanted to console her first. He wanted to give her news of Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana, who were desperate to find her and ready to come to the rescue. He wanted to assuage some of her fears, but at the same time he didn’t want to cancel out the great accomplishment of having found her.

Those souls in this world who find the holy names have a similar responsibility. Out of many thousands of men endeavoring for perfection, only a few will actually attain it. Everyone is searching after God, though they may not know it. Their search for happiness, for heaven on earth, is actually a desire to find a platform of no obstructions. Those obstructions work against divine love. We are always checked in our exhibition of love. This is due to our attitude and our objects of affection. In divine love, there are no obstructions because the perfect match for our affection is found. His features are inexhaustible, and He is also the most powerful. This means that He creates the conditions necessary for that love to flourish, to continue without cessation, lifetime after lifetime.

[maha-mantra]One who hears or chants the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” has found the most attractive being, the only person full of all opulences. In hearing His names they have found the pathway to the platform of no obstructions. So many millions have searched for this treasure, travelling anywhere and everywhere, even into outer space, and have yet to find it. Yogis have meditated and jnanis have studied so many books, only to fail in their attempts to find the Supreme Lord.

The devotee who is fortunate enough to hold on to the holy name and chant it with attention, love and determination has found something that so many others have failed to find. Therefore the responsibility is great to maintain that treasure, to not throw away the good fortune out of laziness or lack of respect.

When the sentiment is pure, the guidance on how to proceed comes from within, from the Supersoul, who is also known as the chaitya-guru. Shri Hanuman got the gift of the chance to serve Rama, and while in Lanka he had no one to consult for help. He was guided by his devotion, however, and so he made the most out of his great fortune of finding Sita. Similarly, those who are sincere in their desire to serve and please the Supreme Lord make the most out of the wonderful gift of devotion, sharing it with others and safeguarding it until the end of life.

In Closing:

When after with difficulty searching so,

From finding goal in ecstasy to go.

 

Monkeys for Sita searched far and wide,

Hanuman learned that in Ashoka she did reside.

 

By his feat in humility amazed,

But now on to the next phase.

 

When heart sincere God will guide,

The proper path from them not to hide.

 

Devotee with chanting responsibility same,

Ready always to give others the holy name.

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