“Having killed Vali, then Rama, a conqueror of others’ cities, gave away that kingdom of monkeys to the very powerful Sugriva.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.12)
tataḥ sa vālinam htvā rāmaḥ parapuranjayaḥ ||
prāyacchatkapirājyam tatsugrīvāya mahābalaḥ |
In the Vishnu Purana, Parashara Muni gives a nice definition for Bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. God is great, we know. But when we don’t know exactly what greatness entails, it is tempting to assign the status of “divine” to an ordinary person. Upon reading the ancient Sanskrit texts of India, at first glance it may seem like this was done with historical personalities such as Rama and Krishna. From taking stock of Parashara Muni’s description, however, we see that there is evidence to the claim that Rama is the Supreme Lord.
“Full wealth, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge, and renunciation - these are the six opulences of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Vishnu Purana 6.5.47)
The word “bhagavan” means one who possesses all fortunes, or opulences. It is possible to enumerate those opulences. God is all beautiful, all powerful, all knowledgeable, all wealthy and all famous. These should make sense to us. If someone is God, they must have the most money. No one can be richer than God, for whatever commodity a currency is based on originally belongs to the Supreme Lord. And of course God is the most famous. Everyone knows Him. To create on such a grand scale, God would have to be the most knowledgeable. To hold up every planet in its orbit means that the supreme controller has the most power. The beauty of this creation shows the creative mind of God. His handiwork is one way to appreciate His own beauty, but also there is the form of the Supreme Lord which is the best sight for the eyes to rest upon.
There is a sixth opulence. We might not think of this one right away. It is renunciation. No one is more renounced than God. In illusion we think that it is a good thing to have an attachment to a spouse. “Find the person of your dreams and fall in love together. Formally take vows in front of your friends and family and in this way ride off into the sunset.” But in fact that sunset is not always so pleasant. When there is strong attachment, there is a higher chance for anger. From anger you eventually lose intelligence. Lost intelligence is not a good thing, and in this case it is rooted in attachment.
krodhād bhavati sammohaḥsammohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥsmṛti-bhraṁśād buddhi-nāśobuddhi-nāśāt praṇaśyati
“From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.63)
Renunciation is an opulence because it is not easily acquired and also because it benefits the person who has it. The golfer must be renounced enough from the outcome to continue on after playing a bad hole. The family man should be renounced enough to not continue purchasing so many items that he doesn’t need. The children should be renounced enough to maintain focus on their studies, which are more important than their toys.
Only God is the most renounced. In the material world we can assess any opulence. We can measure to see which person has more or less. Renunciation cannot be complete in the living entity, who is never God, because they don’t have the most to be renounced. Consider it in these terms: if I don’t have something, it is easy for me to live without it. My renunciation isn’t as strong in this instance. If I’ve never been wealthy, it is easier for me to go without so many objects in my life. If I’ve never had interactions with the opposite sex, it makes sense that I can go my whole life remaining celibate. It is for this reason that aspiring transcendentalists are advised to give up the four pillars of sinful life as soon as possible. If you’ve never had association with gambling, meat eating, intoxication or illicit sex, you are very fortunate. You will have an easier time living without these things in adulthood.
God’s renunciation is the greatest since He has the most to start with. In this verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman gives us an example of this fact. Hanuman explains that Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord in a beautiful incarnation of a seemingly human form which roamed this earth millions of years ago, is the conqueror of others’ cities. If you think you are set in your position, that no one can attack you, that no one can take away what you have, know that God can do it in an instant. He doesn’t even have to work directly. He can use His indirect force of time, which is known to devour all.
prahlādaś cāsmi daityānāṁkālaḥ kalayatām ahammṛgāṇāṁ ca mṛgendro 'haṁvainateyaś ca pakṣiṇām
“Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahlada; among subduers I am time; among the beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garuda, the feathered carrier of Vishnu.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 10.30)
As a warrior prince having grown up in Ayodhya, Rama is capable of conquering any other city using His bow and arrows. Hanuman mentions this trait for two reasons. One is that it is fact. Two is that the person hearing these words is Rama’s wife, who at the time is in distress. She is separated from Rama due to the cruel deeds of the king of Lanka, Ravana. The evil king thought that he was safe, that no one could conquer his city. Hanuman here says otherwise, in the process alleviating some of the concerns Sita may have.
To give proof to the claim, Hanuman mentions how Rama conquered the monkey kingdom by slaying the powerful Vali in battle. This occurred after Sita was taken away from Rama’s side in secret in the Dandaka forest. Keeping in mind that God is the most renounced, Hanuman mentions that Rama gave away that kingdom of monkeys to Sugriva, who is a great soul and a very powerful person himself. This means that Rama gives away the greatest kingdoms after easily conquering them. He has no use for them. He is not after stealing anyone’s property, though everything originally belongs to Him. He is not after hogging any glory for Himself.
These words from Hanuman also foreshadow the fate of Lanka. Rama will conquer that city as well. Keeping with His renunciation, He will give it away to another great soul, Ravana’s younger brother Vibhishana. This is Rama’s kindness. He seeks not anyone’s property. He is pleased when kingdoms are governed by pious souls, who keep Him at the forefront of their consciousness. Though Rama is the most renounced, He never abandons those dear to Him. For this reason, the most renounced souls of this world maintain an attachment to Him, always chanting His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
With six opulences, including most renounced,
Bhagavan with all quantities pronounced.
Easily any kingdom can conquer,
And then to devoted soul to offer.
Like with victory over Vali with bow commanding,
Kingdom of monkeys to Sugriva then handing.
Lanka soon to have identical fate too,
For His devotees anything Rama will do.