Monday, July 28, 2014

From The Earth To The Sky

[Rama's lotus feet]“Laying out the carpet and offering water, they respectfully took them across. Walking with excitement, there was full joy and bliss from the earth to the sky.” (Janaki Mangala, 187)

dēta pāvaṛē aragha calīṁ lai sādara |
umagi calē'u ānanda bhuvana bhuham̐ bādara ||

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The French author Jules Verne wrote a book whose title in English translates to “From The Earth to the Moon.” It was written long before the space programs launched rockets into outer space. Who wouldn’t be enamored with the other world? Who wouldn’t want to see what’s out there beyond the horizon? While this verse from the Janaki Mangala doesn’t specifically give us hints on how to accomplish space travel, it does provide a mechanism for spreading joy and bliss into the sky. That joy starts on the earth, and it comes from a special interaction.

The event referenced here is a kind of wedding reception. The wedding already happened somewhere else. It took place in Tirahuta, and the wedded couples are now in Ayodhya. The reception in Ayodhya is just as important, for it is where the couples will live. As part of that welcome, a carpet gets laid out. As the couples walk across, the ladies of the court respectfully sprinkle water. As the sons and their new wives walk across, everyone feels tremendous joy and bliss, which then extend into the sky.

This latter part is not possible with an ordinary wedding. In times past there was no way to extend a celebration beyond the local area, as today’s forms of communication were not yet invented. Today we could post pictures from the event online and have others see them from across the globe. Thus they could share in the joy. We could record the event and then show it again later on, to a different audience. We could also tell others about it after the fact, essentially recreating the moment with our words.

[Sita and Rama]But in none of these mechanisms does the joy automatically spread into the sky at the precise moment things are occurring. The marriage here was for Sita and Rama. Rama is the prince of Ayodhya, and He has three younger brothers. Their marriages took place at the same time. So four couples are walking across the welcome carpet. The eyes of the queens are fixed on four handsome grooms and four beautiful brides.

Rama is God. He is the full embodiment of bliss, knowledge and eternality. He appears differently depending on the situation. Others may not know Him fully, but He is always above the darkness of the material existence. The words used to praise Him are uttama, or above darkness. Since He is the purusha, or person, above the mode of ignorance, one of His many names is Purushottama. The land where He resides in His form of Jagannatha, which means “Lord of the universe,” is known as Purushottama-kshetra.

[Lord Jagannatha]This event is a celebration of Rama’s marriage to Sita, and so everyone from above is watching. And if we analyze further, we see that the joy and bliss spring from devotion. People are practicing devotion to Sita and Rama and feeling wonderful in the process. Their joy automatically shoots into the sky and soars to the heavenly region and beyond.

This is instructive for those looking for a meaning to life. In ordinary work, not everyone else will notice. We can try to go to the moon, but we cannot stay there. Even if we achieve residence in a heavenly realm through our pious deeds, we can’t remain in the higher planets forever. Devotional service does not suffer from the same defect. Not only do we derive joy from devotion during this lifetime, but our happiness extends all the way to the upper regions. The Supreme Lord and His associates take notice. And at the time of death, we get to soar through the sky and beyond the material covering, happily reaching the supreme abode, the param dhama, the place where the Supreme Lord resides with His eternal associates.

In Closing:

Celebration with spirits soaring high,

Good feelings travel from earth to sky.

 

Not like a temporary upward bound,

And then again returning to the ground.

 

Results of devotional celebration to stay,

To associates of all lands making their way.

 

Think of God at death to easily penetrate,

Material covering and to param dhama elevate.

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