Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Hero’s Welcome

[Lord Rama's feet]“With the great auspiciousness and the good aura, the demigods rained down flowers. The city was filled with sounds of rejoicing, and the men and women were very happy.” (Janaki Mangala, 181)

hohiṃ sumangala saguna sumana sura baraṣahiṃ |
nagara kolāhala bhayau nāri nara haraṣahiṃ ||

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The aura was perfect for the return of Dasharatha and his four sons. All the omens were good. There was nothing negative looming. Not too long prior, the omens were mixed. There were ominous signs that troubled the king and his party. There were auspicious signs which cancelled those out. The guru pointed out the auspiciousness, and his prediction was validated when Rama averted the potential disaster of an angry Parashurama. But now the aura was all-auspicious, fitting for the triumphant return home.

Perhaps you have a difficult time believing in God. Even if you do accept that He exists, you’re not really sure what He looks like. Is there only one manifestation? Can’t He have more than one appearance? Therefore your idea is vague. Still, if someone were to tell you that God was planning on visiting your home, what would you do? Most likely you would straighten up. Time to throw out that pizza box that’s been sitting on the kitchen table for the past few days. Time to organize all the junk mail that you have yet to sort through. Time to fix up the living room and make sure there are clean towels in the bathrooms.

[offerings for Govardhana Puja]Actually, you would do these things for any important guest. But God is the most important person to ever come to your home. Therefore you have to go the extra mile. You’ll decorate further. You’ll put flowers everywhere. You’ll make every room smell pleasant. You’ll set aside a path for the Supreme Lord to walk through as He enters. You’ll have a nice seat awaiting Him. You’ll make sure that the best food and drink will be on hand, in large amounts. God creates the oceans without blinking an eye, so He can easily drink up that same volume of liquid. He consumes the clarified butter poured into official sacrifices in His honor. He accepts the foodstuffs kindly prepared and set in front of His many temple deities around the world. He accepts these things simultaneously, all the while staying one.

“The Lord is situated in everyone's heart as the Supersoul. Does that mean that He has become divided? No. Actually, He is one. The example is given of the sun: the sun, at the meridian, is situated in his place. But if one goes for five thousand miles in all directions and asks, ‘Where is the sun?’ everyone will say that it is shining on his head. In the Vedic literature this example is given to show that although He is undivided, He is situated as if divided.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 13.17 Purport)

Though He rests within everyone’s heart as the Supersoul, He is one. He is never divided. He can expand, for sure, but this doesn’t mean that His original form loses anything. He is Ramachandra, the eldest son of Dasharatha, but this doesn’t mean that while He’s on earth as Rama He is suddenly no longer Krishna. And when He lifts Govardhana Hill in Vrindavana, it doesn’t mean that He is no longer Rama.

[Lord Rama]In the same way, though He is the Supersoul residing in my heart, He is also within yours. It is the same person. Therefore He sees more than anyone else. Take all the newspaper reporters in the world, combine their eyesight, memory, and ability to craft stories describing what they’ve seen and you get some idea of how amazing God is in just His role as the Supersoul.

Since He is so amazing, you must have an amazing welcome ready for Him. For an idea of how that welcome should appear, look no further than Ayodhya during the time of Rama’s return. Here Goswami Tulsidas says that all the qualities were good, saguna. There was great auspiciousness, sumangala. And the demigods rained down flowers. So the omens were good, the aura was good, and the physical appearance was good as well.

The sound of rejoicing filled the city, and the men and women were very happy. That in itself is the best welcome. If you arrive somewhere and the hosts are not happy to see you, how will you feel? “Oh alright, you can come in, if you have to. Don’t expect any food, because we’re almost out. Don’t sit on the couch; you’ll mess it up. Rather, sit on the floor. And don’t think of eating anywhere near the furniture. Stand over in that corner and eat whatever food you can find in here.”

This isn’t so nice a welcome. The opposite reception makes you feel so good. And so the excitement of the men and women made the welcome all the more special. They had plenty to be excited about. Rama and Lakshmana, two of Dasharatha’s four sons, were finally returning home. They had left to protect the sage Vishvamitra from the attacks of evil night-rangers. Now they were returning home safe and sound, married as well. The other two sons also came home with brides, and so the proud father had plenty to rejoice over.

[Rama and Lakshmana]One of Rama’s many names is Raghuvira, which means the hero of the Raghu dynasty. He is brave, righteous, and always concerned with the welfare of those who are under His protection. And so the hero got the perfect welcome in Ayodhya, where everyone spontaneously rejoiced at His triumphant return. He protected Vishvamitra, won the contest in Janakpur, married the beautiful Sita, and now finally came back.

In Closing:

If God arriving to you,

At your home what to do?

 

Obviously cleanup task to take,

So that perfect welcome to make.

 

In Ayodhya Rama like hero greeted,

After princes in Janaka’s contest defeated.

 

Most wonderful welcome people gave,

Image of Rama in their hearts to save.

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