Saturday, September 20, 2014

Attached Though Detached

[Monkeys working for Rama]“Then, having been ordered by Sugriva, thousands of monkeys, who could assume any shape at will, searched in all directions for that goddess.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.13)

sugrīveṇāpi sandiṣṭā harayaḥ kāmarūpiṇaḥ ||
dikṣu sarvāsu tām devīm vicinnvanti sahasraśaḥ |

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In the verse previous to this one in the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman explains how Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord in a famous incarnation form, shows full detachment by being able to give up a kingdom that He rightfully earns. Rama can conquer cities belonging to others. He does this when necessary, but He does not keep the kingdom for Himself. He conquered the monkey kingdom in Kishkindha and then gave it away to Sugriva. While showing detachment in that area, Rama is fully attached to His dearest servants, the people who love Him at a level impossible to measure. For them, He will literally move heaven and earth. He can do the work all by Himself, but He is not against allowing the most eager among the creatures on earth to go on His behalf.

Rama doesn’t need to rely on the human species alone. Consider the seeing eye dog. The person who has difficulty seeing, who may be completely blind, needs help in getting around. If they live in an urban area, how are they going to cross the street properly and safely? Perhaps using sound and a guide stick they can walk through the streets, but they can only get so far this way.

[Seeing eye dog]Obviously it would be ideal to have another person with them at all times. But who would be willing to assume such a role? Especially in the busy modern life, where simply making ends meet requires so much labor, few will be able to make the full sacrifice for the benefit of another. The dog comes into play here, as it can be very useful for the blind person. The dog is loyal. It cannot speak, but it can communicate well enough to increase the spatial knowledge of the handicapped person.

In Rama’s case, He is not handicapped. He is the most capable person. Since He is so dear to the pious souls, so many are enthusiastic about serving Him. After regaining his kingdom, the monkey-king Sugriva offered service to Rama by ordering thousands of monkeys to go in search of Sita, Rama’s wife who had gone missing. These monkeys were not ordinary. As Hanuman describes, they could assume any shape at will, kama-rupa. This trait they shared in common with the inhabitants of Lanka. The difference was that the Rakshasas in Lanka were wicked-minded, while the monkeys from Kishkindha were spontaneously attracted to devotional service to God.

The less intelligent person may take this verse from the Ramayana as an opportunity for criticizing Rama.

“He was so lusty for His wife that He engaged thousands of forest-dwellers to look for her. If He really was God, He would have forgotten about His wife. So many famous saints of the past left home voluntarily. Some of them had beautiful wives, too. So Rama couldn’t do that. He had to see His wife again, who was known to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Thus He can’t be God.”

[Monkeys working for Rama]In truth, the fact that thousands of monkeys went searching for Sita shows how much God loves His devotees. Whether a foolish person criticizes Him or not, it makes no difference. Sita was in trouble. It was not like she was staying with a saintly person, in safe confines. She was in constant trouble, terrorized by the female ogres of Lanka, who were ordered by their leader to scare her into submission. The evil king, Ravana, wanted Sita for himself, and thus far she hadn’t budged. He thought that perhaps with the threat of violence she would change her mind.

So for God to abandon a person at such a time for the sake of showing renunciation that He had already shown many times previously was not desired. For Sita’s sake Rama will do anything, and she the same. For this reason she is Hare, or the energy of God. She is the perfect spiritual energy, incapable of being tainted by material contact. We living entities are the marginal energy; we can choose either the spiritual or the material. Hare is always with the spiritual side, and so God is always with her. He will do anything for her benefit.

In Closing:

Though God by Himself all can do,

Not against taking help from others too.

 

Like monkeys by Sugriva sent,

In search of Sita they went.

 

Rama previously renunciation shown,

Not worried thus for reputation His own.

 

Rather to alleviate wife in sore distress,

Who by Hanuman’s association soon to be blessed.

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