“They drew patterns using colored rice flour, laid down four kalashas, and hoisted flags, decorating everything nicely. In the street many kinds of jubilant music played.” (Janaki Mangala, 183)
cauṅkaiṁ puraiṁ cārū kalasa dhvaja sājahiṁ |
bibidha prakāra gahāgaha bājana bājahiṁ ||
The Supreme Lord is part of me. He exists within me in His plenary expansion of the Supersoul, also known as the Paramatma. As such, I am never actually separated from Him. In ignorance of this fact, I have been roaming through different bodies in lifetime after lifetime. The properties apply to every other conditioned living entity also. Since He is actually part of us, serving God is not very difficult. In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala we see that basic items such as rice flour and flags suffice for perfect worship.
When I forget that God is part of me, I look for success without Him. I strive for material opulence. This is very difficult. One store location isn’t enough for the businessman. They must expand. Relatively high employment rates for a nation aren’t sufficient. If the total output of goods and services doesn’t grow from one quarter to the next, there is a panic over the economy.
As such, there must be progress. Instead of living simply and growing one’s own food on the land that they have claim to, the citizen must travel very far each day to earn a living. Instead of being content with a simple lifestyle that provides enough basic necessities, the individual must constantly buy new things. “Out with the old and in with the new.” And of course there is never enough. Even with such accumulation peace remains absent, and without peace there cannot be happiness.
“One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.66)
In the devotional consciousness, there is peace no matter the situation. Whether one is living on a farm or in a penthouse apartment, they remember that God is part of them. Therefore they act for His interest first. They can have many cars or just one. They can have a lot of money or very little. They are not dependent on the objects. Satisfied in the relationship to the Supreme, they are known as atmarama.
To see how this works, we can study the behavior of the residents of Ayodhya a long time ago. They wanted to celebrate. They were so happy that their beloved son, Shri Rama, was returning home a married man. Rama’s father was the king. Dasharatha got all four of his sons married at the same time, so there was so much to rejoice over in the city.
The people did not require much. They used basic items like pots, flags and flour, and there was no deficiency in the celebration. The devotion is what made the atmosphere. They had pure and spontaneous love for Rama, who is the Supreme Lord in an incarnation specific to a time and place. Rama is the very same Vishnu who resides in the heart as the Supersoul. He is the very same Krishna who roams the sacred land of Vrindavana, sweetly playing His flute and giving pleasure to the cows and the senses. He is the same Brahman, which is the impersonal effulgence of God that lacks definition. Rama is the definition behind the generic term of “God,” which is a vague concept.
These residents didn’t necessarily know that Rama was God. They didn’t have to. They knew that their lives depended on Him, and more specifically, their devotion to Him. Rama was part of their lives, the central figure in fact. Knowing this, the people had success in the things that mattered the most to them. Their success was seen not in their external wealth but rather in their display of affection.
And so that same affection can be shown by anyone, for the same Rama stays with every single person as the Supersoul. It is the etiquette when visiting temples of Vishnu, or God, to bring an offering upon entering. Something simple like a flower or a fruit is sufficient. It is the thought which counts. The neophyte thinks that God only resides in the temple, but the actual fact is that God is everywhere. This means that He can be worshiped everywhere.
Through the simple chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” one can worship God. This chanting can be done by any person, even one who doesn’t know the difference between spirit and matter. This mantra can be chanted for one second or for multiple hours consecutively. It can be recited by both the rich and the poor and the lucky and the unlucky.
One doesn’t have to travel very far to chant these names, either. The people of Ayodhya simply had to go out into the streets, where they played jubilant music. Rama was pleased by their welcome, and the citizens remained dear to Him forever. It is no wonder that the Almighty chose such a place to appear and call home for many years during the Treta Yuga.
Simple objects a celebration to make,
Rice flour, pots and flags to take.
Extravagance for Ayodhya not required,
By love for Sita and Rama inspired.
Of me and also you He’s a part,
With chanting devotion today start.
With love keeping close to you near,
Then to Lord forever remain dear.