Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Anukirtayan

[Hanuman's heart]“If I narrate about Rama, her dear husband whose actions are effortless, she will not be frightened, as her mind will be absorbed in thoughts of her husband.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.41)

rāmam akliṣṭa karmāṇam sva bandhum anukīrtayan ||
na enām udvejayiṣyāmi tat bandhu gata mānasām |

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“Why should I think about God? What will that do for me? I hear that it is beneficial, but is it not the process alone which is effective? Isn’t it just that focusing on a specific object for a long period of time yields good results? Maybe people made up the thinking of God thing is a tactic to help cope with a dangerous, bewildering world?”

Indeed, this world is quite puzzling. Families separate over the most trivial argument. Though they may spend time together regularly, giving signs of affection towards one another, a single incident can ruin everything. One person is left angry at the other. The other side, who is accused of having made an offense, is angry at the other side for being upset with that so-called offense.

In the case of a princess a long time ago, there was tremendous distress over something that shouldn’t have happened. She had not bothered anyone. Consider the person you respect the most. Think of that one person who seems to be in good favor with everyone. Sita is such a person, except she is unlike anyone we have ever met. She gives away everything she has for the benefit of others. She follows her husband without deviation. She listens to her parents, respecting them so much. Though she is loved and adored by all, she never considers herself superior. She passes the honor back up, towards her husband, His father, and her own parents. She is the best person in every single way.

[Sita Devi]And yet here she is in tremendous distress. Hanuman has been sent to find her and he is pondering over how best to approach her. He has good news. Rama is coming to save her. Rama will move heaven and earth, almost literally, to do this. Ravana had taken Sita to Lanka. Ravana was a powerful king, so removing him as an obstacle would be like pushing the earth out of the way. It wouldn’t be easy for a normal person, but then Rama isn’t normal. As Sita is the best person who is loved by everyone, Shri Rama is the source of everything. Everyone inherently loves Him, even those who claim that He is an ordinary man. Those unfortunate souls love Him indirectly, for they are enamored by His material nature.

Ravana was in a similar situation. He was lusty after the bodily features of Sita. What he saw was an illusion, since her spiritual form is meant to please Rama only. Those who look upon her favorably see her beauty and immediately think of how deserving Rama is to have such a wife.

Hanuman has good news but is not sure how to bring it up to Sita. She doesn’t know who he is, and she might mistake him for an enemy. Here Hanuman says that he will narrate the actions of Rama, whose actions are without effort. Rama is also a dear husband and so hearing these words about Him will bring Sita close to Him.

Indeed, Rama is initially dear to everyone. So in hearing about someone who is dear to me on the inside, it will remove my fear. That removal may take a long time or it may happen very quickly. Regardless, the effect of the anukirtayan, or narration, is the same. Kirtana is a practice commonly equated with the chanting of the holy names accompanied to music. It is the song form of repeating mantras.

“Kirtanam actually means ‘describing.’ We can describe with music, words, pictures, etc. Shravanam goes hand in hand with kirtanam, for unless we hear, we cannot describe. We don’t need any material qualifications in order to attain the Supreme. All we have to do is hear from authoritative sources and repeat accurately what we hear.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Raja-vidya, Ch 4)

[Shrila Prabhupada]As a Sanskrit word, kirtana also means “describing.” So here Hanuman has resolved to describe Rama’s actions. From his anukirtayan, fear will be removed in a saintly personality like Sita. The material world is a place full of fear, for nothing is ever fixed. I have a good circle of friends today, but tomorrow that could vanish. I have the enjoyment of my home this morning, but tonight it can all change. Knowing this, what sane person wouldn’t be in fear?

When Rama protects you, He does so effortlessly. And so hearing of His deeds is the best way to remove fear. He has other spiritual forms as well. Even the most obstinate person, who refuses to accept the transcendental form belonging to the Almighty, can take solace in the effortless work of the material nature, which brings the summer and winter seasons like clockwork. The raging forest fire is practically impossible to put out, but a single storm passing by at the right time easily extinguishes the flames.

And just as the narration of Rama’s deeds removes fear, so too does hearing the heroic exploits of Rama’s servant, Shri Hanuman. The heart melts in pondering over the difficult situations he faced and how he was guided the whole time by his pure love for Sita and Rama. Such a sincere soul has tremendous potency, and his grace alone can bring the favor of the beloved Sita and Rama.

In Closing:

In chaotic world always in fear,

To remove it Rama’s deeds hear.

 

To beloved wife Sita is dear,

And in Hanuman’s heart kept near.

 

He describes Rama’s deeds Sita to,

With kirtana same practice by you.

 

Rama’s work without effort, with potency acting,

Effects of material world on you counteracting.

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