Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Story of Cleaning

[Lord Krishna]“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)

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Bhagavad-gita, 7.8One day Richard decided it was about time he tidied up his room. The chore had been long overdue. Though usually a punctual man when it relates to work, school, and obligations that benefit others, when in the confines of his own room, Richard let’s go of all pressure and attention to time. “That is the whole point to relaxing, is it not?” he tells others.

As it had been a while since he last cleaned, there were a lot of things to organize this time. The closet needed a good once over. There were so many clothes that Richard hadn’t worn in years, it seemed. Many clothes no longer fit him, and others seemed out of fashion. “These were gifts from someone, but I can’t remember who,” he remarked as he combed through the vast web of accumulated shirts, pants, ties and sweatshirts.

The task went on without issue for a while. Not until he reached the dresser on the other side of the room did something noteworthy happen. The inside of the top drawer had long since been designated the “miscellaneous” area. One time after doing laundry Richard saw that it was empty. Rather than leave it in its pristine state, Richard figured it a prime spot to put so many odd papers, gadgets, wires and the like that didn’t seem to fit in any other area.

[Cluttered drawer]As on this day he had finally gotten up off his lazy rear-end, Richard decided that he should try to organize as much as possible this miscellaneous drawer. A few odd things he first found, like a receipt from a trip to a restaurant a few years back. “Ah, I remember that day,” he recalled. “It was a good time, back when all of my friends were together. I miss those times.”

Then he came upon an object that brought back even fonder memories:

“Oh, this is my old music player. Man, I totally forgot I had this. This thing was great back in the day. I remember how excited I was when I first received it as a gift. I remember opening it up and loading all my music onto it.”

The case that was presently on the device seemed to bring particular recollections, as there were a few other cases for the same device in the drawer:

[Zune with Speck Toughskin case]“This case is great. It was the one I finally decided on. I remember I spent so much time looking for the right one. The first few I bought weren’t that great. I would exercise frequently and watch videos on here. I remember how long it took me to convert all the movies I had and place them on this device.”

Despite the fond memories the device brought back, Richard was now in a dilemma. He didn’t know what to do with it. The obvious choice was to throw it out. But he had spent so much time setting it up. It used to be of vital importance to him. This sort of machine was once an integral part of his life, but now no longer so.

What followed next was a brief period of reflection:

“Doesn’t this device just say it all? It speaks to how the machines man creates are never perfect. For this once-loved device to have stayed in this drawer for so long shows that something better came along. Now I get music and movies on my phone. There are tablet computers today. Oh man, the most famous tablet of them all wasn’t even invented back when I was using this thing. That’s crazy!”

Then came remembrance of a higher power and the machines He creates:

“How great must God be to have created so many machines that never stop working? I know we tend not to think this way, but the sun is like a machine. It provides heat and light, just like the lamps in our rooms and the space heaters we use in the winter months. The relative positioning of the sun also welcomes in cold weather, like the air conditioners we take out of the garage every summer. And this one machine, the sun, has never needed an upgrade. There is no chance of it being turned off and tucked away in a drawer. There is no way to ever improve upon it, either. Indeed, scientists today look for ways to make machines and mechanisms that will better harness the existing sun’s immense potency.”

After cleaning was finished, to the best that it could be done in that short amount of time, Richard sat down and happily opened up his Bhagavad-gita As It Is. This work, one of Richard’s favorites, is a translation of the famous Sanskrit text done by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In opening up the book, Richard immediately jumped to the verse where the wise speaker reveals to the sincere listener how He is the light of the sun, among many other things.

[Bhagavad-gita As It Is]Richard thought to himself, “So the sun is one way to remember Krishna. He is the light behind it. The sun, as great as it is and as much as it is a flawless machine that is benevolent to us creatures on earth, is but a small way to understand Krishna, who is much greater.”

The rest of the day was spent in contemplation of Richard’s beloved Krishna, who is the personal aspect to the abstract concept of a supreme deity. Richard connected with Krishna again in a slightly different way, by chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. All in all, it was a good day’s work of cleaning, with the memory of a once dear machine bringing to mind the grace, intelligence, beauty and potency of the author of the perfect machines of mother nature.

In Closing:

To inventors we give praise to the hilt,

Marvel at the machines they have built.


The sun and the moon what about?

Not possible these to live without.


Supreme Lord alone these things made,

Since dawn of time with us have stayed.


Appreciate Him next time the sun you see,

Know that His inventions of flaws are free.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Defense Rests

[Sita Devi]“As you are very strong, the brother of the master of the treasury [Kuvera] and possess a great military force, why did you have to lure Rama away to come and do your wife-robbery?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand 22.22)

śūreṇa dhanadabhrātrā balaiḥ samuditena ca |
apihya rāmaṃ kasmāddhi dāracauryaṃ tvayā kṛtam ||

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Imagine that you really need to have something done. When you ask somebody to do it and they decline, you have no choice but to use words to try to persuade them. You will present arguments in your favor. You can use the words from their response to form counterarguments. In the case of Ravana, his proposal was out of the question. Still, he persisted, and he thought his arguments were valid, worthwhile, and free of flaw. Sita Devi, the person Ravana was trying to persuade, saw right through both him and his words. In an artful rebuttal of his claims, she waited until the very end to completely expose the flaw in his case. As an expert attorney speaks no further once the opposition’s argument has been completely dismantled, Sita spoke no more after delivering the most striking blow to his presentation.

There is a famous Hollywood movie particularly known for its compelling climax that takes place in a courtroom. It appears that the defense doesn’t stand a chance, that the prosecution, with their leading witness, has defeated them. Everyone on both sides knows that the witness is somewhat responsible for the crime tagged to the accused, but without sufficient evidence, there is no way to convince the court. In the end, the upstart lead attorney for the defense figures out a major flaw in the star witness’s testimony. The attorney ends up using those words against the witness, presenting the argument so perfectly that the witness has no choice but to get angry. In his anger, he loses his composure and gives a de facto confession while on the stand.

[Scene from A Few Good Men]A similar thing happened to Ravana, the king of Lanka. He wasn’t on trial, but he presented arguments nevertheless. He was trying to persuade Sita, the wife of Lord Rama, to abandon her lifelong vow of chastity and become the chief queen in Lanka. Sita was having none of it. She had no desire to be with him. She never gave even a glimmer of hope to Ravana. Today she is famously known as the most devoted wife, the beloved eternal consort of the Supreme Lord. God is one, but He appears differently at different times of the creation. Though His manifestations may have a different visible appearance to us, He is still the same individual. The same holds true for His eternal consort. Sita is the manifestation of God’s wife who appears as the beloved daughter of King Janaka.

Ravana presented many arguments in his favor. He reminded Sita that he is the brother of Kuvera, who is the treasurer of the demigods. The treasurer keeps an eye on the wealth. As the brother, Ravana had access to that fortune. When saying this to a princess, it is a way to point out that they will never have to live in poverty. Sita, though a king’s daughter and a prince’s wife, was living like an ascetic in the forest when Ravana met with her. The foolish king of Lanka mistakenly thought that Sita was poor and that her husband Rama was without fortune. He also thought that Sita cared so much about money, wealth and fame. He did not know that Sita is only interested in serving her husband. This is her choice. No one can force her to do otherwise. She is the most independent woman, and she uses that independence to behave as the most chaste wife.

Ravana also bragged to Sita about his strength and his mighty military. He thought he made a pretty compelling case for winning over any woman, let alone someone who just came from the forest. Ravana thought he rescued her from a life of destitution. In his mind, she should have jumped at the chance to be his wife.

[Sita Devi]Sita swiftly, deftly, and strategically dismantled his entire case. The above referenced verse from the Ramayana is her concluding remark to the king, who had kept her in the Ashoka grove in his kingdom. There is no answer to the rhetorical question she puts forth here. There is no excuse Ravana can come up with. There is no counter argument. Her question basically says, “So, I see you’re very proud of your strength. You’re also the brother of the master of the treasury. You also have a mighty army. I agree with these points. Kudos to you. But let me ask you something. If you have all this going for you, why did you have to lure Rama away in order to take His wife? Isn’t trickery the tactic for the weak? We know that diplomacy is beneficial for the weaker party in a conflict, and based on what you have told me, you are anything but weak. Therefore why did you have to wait until Rama was out of the picture before doing your wife-stealing?”

The arguments put forth by those against devotion to God, which is the constitutional engagement of the spirit soul, are always full of such holes. If the life of sense gratification were the summit to an existence, why then would anyone ever be miserable? Everyone eats, sleeps, mates and defends. Some do it to a greater degree than others. Some also live for longer than others. Nevertheless, each living being has some taste in eating, some form of sleeping, some experience with sexual behavior, and some inclination to defend what they have. Why, then, is there war, famine, pestilence, and death? Why is there constant angst? Why is there anger, greed, wrath, and jealousy?

[Sita and Rama]It must mean that there is a higher taste. There must be more to life than sense gratification. There must be a reason the human being has more intelligence than the animals. Sita shows the reason in her lifestyle, in her mindset that cannot be altered. Whether in splendor or squalor, in sickness or in health, richer or poorer, she serves Rama. She has the luxury of His physical association, but this does not mean that others are excluded from worship. The lone requirement is the proper consciousness, which Sita had and Ravana lacked. She tried her best to set his mind right, but even defeated in his arguments Ravana would not budge. Others needn’t fall into the same trap.

In Closing:

For so long his own virtues to extol,

But in his arguments remained a gaping hole.


If brother of Kuvera and with army of might,

Why for taking Sita waited for Rama to be out of sight?


For this final argument there was no counter,

Same with atheist class daily to encounter.


More than sense gratification, life has higher taste,

Worship Sita and Rama and time no longer waste.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sting Operation

[Maricha as a deer]“As Rama is wise, it is not possible for me to be abducted by you. This was ordained for your slaying; there is no doubt.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 22.21)

nāpahartumahaṃ śakyā tvayā rāmasya dhīmataḥ |
vidhistava vadhārthāya vihito nātra saṃśayaḥ ||

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The Ramayana is a text of which the Indian population is quite familiar. The work predates any known periods of history. While some scholars will try to date its composition to a few centuries before Christ’s appearance, in actuality the events described took place millions of years ago. The time calculation for the creation, duration and eventual destruction of the cycle of the manifest world is found in the Vedas themselves, with the events of the Ramayana occurring sometime during the second age. There are four ages to the creation, with the divisions allowing for an easier understanding of how dharma, or virtue, deteriorates with the passage of time and how this deterioration influences the members of society.

[Valmiki writing Ramayana]The Ramayana is known today precisely because of the person for whom it is named. Shri Rama is the central character, and according to the Ramayana itself He is non-different from God. The foolish will try to research for physical evidence of Rama’s appearance on this earth, but the book Ramayana is evidence enough. The author, Maharishi Valmiki, saw Rama, met Him, and heard about Him. Valmiki described in a poem what he would later personally see, witness, and hear. That poem, a rather lengthy one at that, was passed on to successive generations, and it is preserved to this very day in its original language. Therefore Valmiki’s work is sufficient authority for proving both Rama’s existence and His divinity.

The Ramayana is appreciated by the not-so-religiously inclined as well, since there are so many other lessons to take away from it aside from the main fact of Rama’s divinity. There is virtue, perseverance, honor, strength, courage, kindness, compassion, and utmost concern for the welfare of others exhibited by the central characters. Upon initial glance, there are some contradictory elements as well. For instance, in one section Rama’s beloved wife Sita is abducted from the forest of Dandaka. Rama is supposedly God, so how can He let this happen? Rama plays the role of a heroic bow-warrior who pays the utmost respect to the principles of righteousness. He doesn’t lose Sita in a fight. Instead, He is supposedly tricked into chasing after an illusory deer, which leaves Sita open to being taken by the fiendish king of Lanka, Ravana.

Rama is antaryami, or the all-pervading witness. He knows what I am thinking right now. He knows what you were thinking yesterday. He knows how you will react tomorrow to that unexpected news you will get. Thus how could He not know that the deer He was chasing after was the demon Maricha in disguise? How did He not know that Ravana set up the whole ruse as a way to take Sita? The wise souls, who are immersed in Vedic culture and accept higher wisdom from their teachers, who themselves follow in the same line of instruction as Valmiki, know that Rama coordinates events perfectly to suit His desires. Therefore He arranged for Sita to be taken. He did this so that Ravana could be destroyed, for the evil king had been terrorizing the innocent people of the world for too long.

[Rama with the deer in the forest]The skeptic may have trouble believing this, as anyone can make up excuses after the fact. “Oh, that’s a a convenient explanation, isn’t it? Rama had planned everything to happen the way it did. So He planned for all the destruction that happens today? So He knows that people will murder and rape? He knows that people will be stricken with cancer? This doesn’t seem to jive. Maybe Rama isn’t really all-knowing. Maybe He isn’t God then. Maybe others had so much affection for Him that afterwards they assigned divine status to Him.”

While it is tempting to accept these speculations, the fact that the events were coordinated by a higher power is confirmed by Sita herself in the above referenced verse from the Ramayana. Here she is speaking to Ravana while in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. She says that her husband is dhimatah, or very wise. Therefore Rama could never be so easily tricked into chasing after a deer. Rama’s protection is perfect. He is known as Krishna in His original spiritual form, and there is a famous saying that one who is protected by Krishna can never be killed and one who is destined to be killed by Krishna can never be protected.

“Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is omnipotent, and if He wants to kill someone, no one can save that person. Similarly, if He wants to save someone, no one can kill him.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 17)

[Lord Krishna with cow]Sita also gives the reason why the abduction took place: for Ravana’s slaying. We can think of it like the undercover sting operation to catch people who are known to be criminals. The authorities may know that a person has dealt drugs to so many people in the past, but since there is no hard evidence supporting such claims, they can’t arrest the offender just yet. Knowing that the offender needs to be apprehended, the authorities will create a scenario where a new crime can be created. Known as a sting operation, someone will pose to be a potential buyer who then approaches the seller. When the alleged criminal makes the sale, and thus commits a crime, the authorities have the evidence they need to prosecute.

Ravana and his ilk had committed many crimes already. They had attacked the innocent sages residing in the forest. Pretend that you want to meditate in a quiet area. You are sick of all the pressures of home and work, so you want to find a peaceful place. You’re not going to bother anyone. You’re simply going to concentrate your mind on the Supreme Lord by always chanting His names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” Would anyone be justified in attacking you? Would it be fair to be killed by other men and then devoured for a meal? This is what happened to many ascetics in the forest of Dandaka.

Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana first acted as defenders to these sages. Still, according to the rules of propriety, they had no justification to go to the land of the offenders and kill them. They could defend but not instigate aggression. God surely has the right to do anything, but as Rama He was particularly keen on doing things lawfully, to set a good example.

[Rama and Lakshmana]Ravana’s taking of Sita gave Rama the required justification for attacking Lanka. Even the celestials were somewhat pleased when Sita was taken away. They knew that Ravana’s demise was then imminent. Sita knew this as well, and here she refutes the claims of the skeptics who think that Rama is somehow unintelligent or not the Supreme Lord Himself. Rama would come to rescue Sita and do away with Ravana, and in the process He would reward so many glorious servants with fame and honor for the work they would do on His behalf. In the same way, the kind-hearted saints who continue to chant the glories of Sita and Rama today earn so many meritorious credits.

In Closing:

In golden deer Ravana ruse created,

And Rama into deep forest was baited.


But destruction for Ravana ordained,

Explains why Rama ignorance feigned.


These words from Ramayana itself receive,

If Rama’s divinity you find difficult to believe.


Sita’s husband the most strong and wise,

Ravana fooled by His humble, human guise.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Folly of Crooked Eyes

[Sita Devi]“O ten-headed one, it is only because I do not have the permission of Rama and that I wish to preserve the power of my austerity that I do not reduce you to ashes with my own power, for that is suitable for you.” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 22.20)

asandeśāttu rāmasya tapasaścāmapālanāt |
na tvāṃ kurmi daśagrīva bhasma bharmārha tejasā ||

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Suffering from cruel and crooked eyes, Ravana could not see Sita properly. His first mistake was thinking that he could enjoy her as a wife. If he had accepted the information already gathered from the hearing process, he would have known without a doubt that the goddess of fortune is always by the side of her husband, the source of all men. This is her choice. No one can make her do anything. She utilizes her freedom in the best way possible, for pleasing the origin of matter and spirit. When the divine couple descends to earth, the behavior does not change. Sita showed the chastity unique to the goddess of fortune when roaming this earth, and since Ravana insisted on seeing for himself, his crooked eyes steered him in the wrong direction. Another mistake he made was thinking that Sita could not defend herself.

It is a common theme in television shows and movies: The prototypical beta male gets picked on by one or more alpha males. The bully against the nerd. The physically weaker male doesn’t want to fight. He just wants to be left alone. The aggressor, who is always insecure about his standing and abilities, feels the need to pick on the weaker in order to feel better about himself. In this typical storyline, a strong woman comes to the defense of the nerd. She takes on the bully, either beating him up totally or at least driving him away.

Normally, if someone stands up for us, we feel thankful. It’s nice to be supported. Going through life alone isn’t much fun. Even if we are avowed to serving God with thought, word and deed, it’s nice to be supported by fellows of a similar mentality. The support can be as basic as companionship or it can be as elaborate as collaboration on various projects.

With these storylines, however, the help from the female is not appreciated. The male feels embarrassed. “Why did you step in? I had things under control. I can solve my own problems. I don’t need my [fill in the blank] fighting my battles for me. I’ll be the laughing stock now. Everyone will say that I need my [fill in the blank] to fight my battles. How could you do this to me?”

[Sita Devi]Not that such sentiments would ever be uttered by the always appreciative sun of the solar dynasty, but the daughter of King Janaka was well aware of how things would be viewed if she intervened. Though she was a woman of delicate features, she did not lack tejas, or potency. Externally, she acquired this power through her austerity, or tapasya. When we see people fasting for a religious observance, we might be puzzled as to why they would punish themselves. “So you’re not going to eat today because some book written thousands of years ago tells you to? Why not enjoy life? Why are you so keen on make-believe?”

But actually, the concept of tapasya, or austerity, is not exclusive to religion. The runner loads up on carbohydrates the night before a race and gets the right amount of rest. The fitness buff stays away from cupcakes, cookies, and pizza while they are trying to get their body into shape. The student doesn’t go out to party when preparing for a big exam. And what is the real benefit to this restriction? So what if your body is lean and fit? How does that change who you are? So what if you win a race, does that suddenly make you a better person?

[Cookies]With religious austerities, the rewards are ideal. The consciousness is purified, whether today, tomorrow, or in a subsequent life. The reward goes into a vault that can be opened at any time. Sita was the most austere, as she abandoned a home in a kingdom to be by the side of her husband. She was not driven by lust. She was not driven by fear. She simply took her wedding vows for real. She did not utter them as a formality. She accepts those vows as lifelong, extending into successive lives as well. In fact, she is not even so concerned with the strengths she gains from her austerity. She serves her husband Rama, who is God, without motivation and without interruption.

Ravana couldn’t understand any of this. After he forcibly took Sita back to his kingdom using a ruse, he thought he could persuade her to come to his side by offering her riches and opulence. The more he pitched, the more he got rejected. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Sita informs Ravana, who has ten heads, that the only reason he is still alive is because Rama didn’t give her permission to kill him. Being burned to ashes was his just reward and she was capable of delivering it. She refrained, however, also because she wanted to preserve her rewards from austerity. A similar reason was given by the sages in the Dandaka forest for not retaliating against attacking night-rangers.

“By the powers gained through our performance of religious austerities, we are certainly capable of killing these Rakshasa demons. But at the same time we don’t want to waste our ascetic merits, which took such a long time to achieve, on these demons. Oh Raghava [Rama], these demons are always putting obstacles in the way, making it impossible for us to concentrate on our performance of austerity and penance. Therefore, even though we are being eaten away by the Rakshasas, we do not curse them.” (Sages of Dandaka forest speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 10.13-14)

If Sita had burned Ravana to ashes, Rama’s reputation would have diminished a little. Others would have mocked Him for having His wife fight His battles for Him. Indeed, the lowest among men mock Him anyway for having employed forest-dwellers as an army, with the leading forest-dweller travelling to Lanka to first find out Sita’s whereabouts.

[Vanaras helping Lord Rama]The brave work of Hanuman and the courageous restraint of Sita further glorify Rama. His closest friends are both capable and intelligent. They have so much love for Him that they will never intentionally do something that harms His stature in the world. Because of this attention, Rama’s stature further increases. Ravana’s crooked eyes fooled him into thinking that Sita was weak, and very soon he would find out just how powerful her husband was as well.

In Closing:

From separation pains looking meek,

Ravana mistakenly thought she was week.


With power from own austerities earned,

Easily Ravana she could have burned.


But permission from Rama there was not,

And also husband’s reputation would drop.


Wise Sita for husband to rescue waited,

Worst punishment for Ravana was slated.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


[Sita Devi holding a flower]“As I am the wife of that pious soul and the daughter-in-law of Dasharatha, how is it that your tongue did not fall off speaking to me in this way?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 22.19)

tasya dharmātmanaḥ patnīṃ snuṣāṃ daśarathasya ca |
kathaṃ vyāharato māṃ te na jihvā vyavaśīryate ||

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There are certain things you’re just not supposed to say. When speaking to a woman, the rules are many. It is rude to ask about her age or weight. These are touchy subjects. Especially if a woman is overweight, it is not polite to make reference to it. The age is another sensitive topic since the body starts to decay as more time passes from birth. Eventually whatever beautiful features were originally there diminish in appeal. Similar rules apply to men, with the loss of hair especially a topic on which to tread lightly. Then there are specific words that are considered profane, not to be used by those who are civilized. A long time ago, the profanity and rudeness came forth in a combined fashion from the mouth of a vile king. The recipient of these inappropriate words correctly wondered how the tongue of that king had not fallen out as a result.

It is customary for media personalities to interview players after a big game. Moments after the match has ended is where the emotions are most intense. The winning team feels elated and the losers are not happy. The best sound bites typically emerge from the losers, for in anger they have less control over their speech. In the Bhagavad-gita, it is said that unsatisfied desires lead to anger, and from anger one does many stupid things.

[Bhagavad-gita, 2.63]“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)

[Andrew Shaw interview]Sometimes even in elation a player releases a few expletives. These words are profane, but since the interviews are done live on the spot, they make it on the air. Later on the words can be censored, but the live viewers are startled by the fact that the words slipped out and made it onto television in the first airing. Though these words are heard quite often in personal conversations, it is rare to hear them on television during a live broadcast. Videos that have a player dropping a profane word get so many hits on websites, as for some reason the incident is a spectacle worthy of attention.

Lust is very difficult to control, but still there are depths that even the lustiest person wouldn’t sink to. They wouldn’t think of wanting to cavort with their daughter. They wouldn’t think of trying to woo a married woman who is known for her chastity. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, a virtuous and married princess is shocked at the words offered to her by a king completely driven by his lust. Indeed, studying the matter further, his words were the very definition of inappropriate.

[Sita and Rama]The princess, Sita Devi, gives support for her opinion. Here she refers to herself as the wife of a pious-soul. That soul is Shri Rama, the incarnation of the Supreme Lord particularly known for His deference to righteous principles. Do you know someone whom you consider to be good? Do you know someone who almost never tells a lie? Do you know someone who would do anything for you and your family? Such qualifications begin to tell the story of Rama. Rama was truly selfless. He did everything for others. He didn’t fall off the path of virtue, though. Helping someone else is considered virtuous, but if that help involves breaking the law, it’s often a wise choice to refrain.

People begged Rama to stay in Ayodhya after His step-mother ordered Him out for fourteen years. He said “No” to such pleas because He didn’t want to jeopardize the word of His father. King Dasharatha was known for being truthful, so if Rama stayed in Ayodhya Dasharatha’s reputation would take a hit. So Rama knew when to deny requests, but everyone still loved Him since they knew where His heart was.

Sita also references her relation to Dasharatha. She says that she is his daughter-in-law. Thus Sita is the wife of a pious-soul and the daughter-in-law of a person who stays true to his word. By mentioning them, Sita implies that she follows their example in character. As the wife of Rama, she is fully devoted to Him. As the daughter-in-law of Dasharatha, she remains truthful to her vow. Thus any sane person would realize that Sita is only for Rama. She cannot be enjoyed by anyone else.

The vile and profane Ravana had the nerve to think that she could be persuaded otherwise. The mere thought of forgetting Rama made Sita sick. She never would consider such a thing. Rama previously tried to persuade her to stay home, abandoning Him while He went to the forest for fourteen years. She also told Him that such words were unthinkable.

“O best of men, what you have said is not worthy of being uttered by a valiant prince versed in the military arts and it is very offensive to such brave men.  What’s more, it is not even proper to hear such words.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 27.3)

[Sita and Rama]Rama at least wanted the best for Sita, but Ravana had other motives. His desired enjoyment was unthinkable, something that should never be contemplated by any person. Sita is Rama’s eternal consort. As the goddess of fortune, she liberally distributes wealth and prosperity to any who worship her properly. Still, that fortune is meant to be used in pleasing Rama. Any other use is a misuse and thus a source for pain and misery.

Ravana had fortune in the form of opulence, strength, and beautiful companionship. From his base words directed at Sita, he obviously lacked the correct frame of mind. His profanity should have caused his tongue to fall out immediately, but there was a larger destruction slated for him. The pious-souled husband of Sita, who was the eldest son of the courageous and truthful Dasharatha, would soon arrive on the scene to reclaim His wife and teach Ravana the lesson of a lifetime.

In Closing:

Certain words not proper to utter,

Like asking age or weight of another.


Profanity not appropriate to drop,

Television and radio these words to block.


Then how Ravana’s tongue in mouth to stay,

When addressed Sita in most profane way?


Punishment for the vile king soon to come,

Delivered by Sita’s husband and Dasharatha’s son.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Diseased Condition

Sita Devi“Why is that your cruel, crooked, blackish and yellowish eyes do not fall to the ground while looking at me, O uncivilized one?” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 22.18)

ive te nayane krūte virūpe kṛṣṇapiṅgale |
kṣitau na patite kasmānmāmanārya nirīkṣataḥ ||

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Ravana’s eyes were cruel. They didn’t look upon others with compassion, as is the natural tendency. If there is a bird fallen on the ground after having accidentally run into a wall, others will look upon it with a saddened heart. The wing or some other vital part is broken, and nothing can be done to save the bird from the unhealthy condition. The same eyes look upon the poor and the downtrodden with pity, an emotion which then causes some action for redress to be taken. Ravana’s eyes had the wrong intentions, and so Sita wondered why they were still in its sockets and not fallen on the ground.

If there is a part of the body that is diseased, all effort is taken to cure it. For instance, if someone breaks their leg, the doctor will place a cast around it. This keeps the bone in place for a time commensurate with healing. Once the bone heals, the cast is removed. If treatment doesn’t work, the next course is removal. Like having a boil or unwanted growth on the body, the diseased portion needs to be removed completely, lest other negative affects arise in the aftermath.

Pizza pieRavana’s eyes were like this. Simple corrective lenses wouldn’t fix the situation. It wasn’t like he had been watching too much television and then developed myopia. He was nearsighted in his vision, for sure, but this was with respect to seeing the future results to action. A person who has 20/20 vision can still be foolish enough to eat an entire pizza pie placed in front of them. The person who never has to wear glasses or contacts can still go for too many rounds at a buffet restaurant. Their vision of consequences is shortsighted. They see the immediate enjoyment of the food, without considering the aftereffects of overeating.

Ravana’s eyes were crooked as well. If they were aligned properly, they would see the beautiful daughter of King Janaka and remember from where she came. If they were straight in their sockets, they would cause Ravana to immediately remember Janaka and Rama, both of whom were very pious. Instead, those crooked eyes, which were dark yellow in color, saw Sita as an object for enjoyment. They didn’t see that she was already married, that her heart was given over to Rama. They didn’t see her kindness, her sweetness, or her forgiving nature.

Sita DeviInstead, those deformed eyes looked upon her only with lust. Sita thus naturally wondered why those eyes hadn’t dropped to the ground yet. They weren’t serving their purpose. All abilities in man are to be utilized for understanding God and then serving Him from that understanding. One way to understand is to see, though this method is inferior to hearing. Hearing is less prone to defect, for if someone relays flawless information to me, I can accept it immediately in hearing. If someone shows me the same flawless information, I could easily get distracted by the visuals. If I watch a debate on television, I could just as easily focus on how the candidates look and how they are handling the pressure of the moment. In hearing the same debate, I am more likely to take note of the arguments made, focus on the content.

Ravana was fortunate in the sense that his eyes had the chance to see Sita. This vision is very rare. Her beauty is typically reserved for her husband Rama. This doesn’t mean that others can’t look at her, though. The devoted souls see her every single day, but the difference is that their vision functions properly. Their eyes are not diseased. The healthy eyes bask in the devotion shown by the sinless Sita, who loves Rama more than any person can love anyone else. Hers is prema, or real love, and not kama, or lust. With kama, the sentiment can turn on a dime. If the object of affection does something unpalatable, the previously professed love can vanish. With prema, nothing can be done to change the sentiment. Because of its nature, prema can only be offered to God. No one else can be loved unconditionally, without vulnerability to time and space.

Despite the chance to see Sita, because of his faulty vision Ravana viewed her in completely the wrong way. If he had just closed his eyes and heard her sound words of advice instead, perhaps things would have ended differently. She taught him in the way that a spiritual master instructs a disciple. But instead of being humble and inquiring submissively, Ravana was lusty and made demands. He forced Sita back to Lanka, his kingdom. She wasn’t bothering anyone in the forest of Dandaka, where she was living with Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana.

Sita, Rama and LakshmanaNature gives us the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and hands and legs for realizing God. He can be found through any of the senses; sight is not the lone option. As we see with Ravana, sometimes the vision is faulty and can cause a skewered understanding of the Supreme Lord and those closest to Him. From hearing of this incident, and especially accepting Sita’s cutting and accurate words, we can learn her true position. The diseased eyes see everything as vehicles for personal enjoyment, while the healthy eyes notice the presence of the Divine everywhere. Those eyes look upon Rama’s wife with compassion and admiration, bringing inspiration for pleasing her in the way of praising her husband.

In Closing:

With eyes dark, wicked and cruel,

Faulty vision for Ravana the fool.


Compassion should have shown,

Treating her like citizen his own.


Instead Sita’s devotion tried to take,

As his own queen attempted to make.


Seen as beloved of Rama in vision pure,

Her love through infinite time to endure.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Not Knowing The Value Of Life

Sita Devi holding flower“Why is that your cruel, crooked, blackish and yellowish eyes do not fall to the ground while looking at me, O uncivilized one?” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 22.18)

ive te nayane krūte virūpe kṛṣṇapiṅgale |
kṣitau na patite kasmānmāmanārya nirīkṣataḥ ||

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The term “anarya” used here by Sita Devi to address the vile Ravana is also used by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita when rebuking Arjuna for his sudden departure from the righteous path. The relationship between Sita and Ravana is vastly different than the one between Krishna and Arjuna, and yet we find mention of the same word. This means that not knowing the value of life can lead to different types of behavior, all of which are equally as harmful.

Bhagavad-gita, 2.2“The Supreme Person [Bhagavan] said: My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the progressive values of life. They do not lead to higher planets, but to infamy.” (Bhagavad-gita, 2.2)

ArjunaIn Arjuna’s case, there was compassion for an opposing army on the eve of a war. Arjuna belonged to the warrior class of men. More than anything, they are to be courageous in defending righteousness. Not everyone is up to fighting. Indeed, the “anti-bullying” movement aims to stamp out all violence in schools. The idea is that fighting is never good. There is never a reason to hit someone. The concept may work well in utopia, but in the real world it is not so practical. What if someone else doesn’t want to listen to the command? What if they insist on violence? Are others supposed to lay down and accept it?

The side opposing Arjuna’s was very aggressive. They took land that belonged to Arjuna and his brothers. They also tried to kill his family several times. War was a last resort. Arjuna and his brothers were justified in raising conflict, but still just before the commencement of battle they were reluctant. Arjuna was concerned for the bodily welfare of the opposing side. Arjuna knew that he had a really good chance of winning.

This was considered non-Aryan behavior. Though the word “Aryan” has a negative connotation today due to its misuse by fanatical groups of recent times, originally it just means one who is cultured. One who knows the value of life is considered Aryan. The value of life is to be God conscious, which is not easy. Within that culture there is attention to duty. The foundational principle of a true Aryan is that they know they are not their body. They know they are spirit, and that when they do act on the bodily plane they do so to maintain the spiritual progression. A violent person endangers the chance for society to function properly. In a cultured society, everyone makes advancement towards the goal of life, though they may be unaware. The advancement is obviously helped by staying alive, so to protect against aggressors, the warrior class is necessary.

ArjunaArjuna was willing to abandon his duty in favor of cheap sentiment. Whether the opposing side would die or live, it would have no bearing on their existence. The soul lives on. Consider the worst tragedy of recent times. It’s painful to think of the victims losing their lives, but it should be known that they live on. They have not ceased to exist. From knowing that no one really dies or takes birth, the wise choose righteousness. At least then the chances for God consciousness increase; one is happiest in that state.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Ravana is also addressed as anarya. He too had affection that was based on a bodily designation. Arjuna is considered a hero, a good guy. He is a close friend of Lord Krishna, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Ravana is the bad guy’s bad guy. He is an enemy of God. As both were once addressed as anarya, it means that Ravana’s affection based on bodily designation was just as indicative of a fall from the proper way of life as was Arjuna’s.

With dark-yellow eyes, which were crooked and cruel, he lustily gazed upon Sita, the beautiful wife of Lord Rama. Rama is the same Krishna but in a different visible manifestation appearing at a different time in the creation. Rama was well-respected during His time, even by enemies. Ravana had fallen so far from the civilized culture that he considered Rama to be weak. He thought he could take Rama’s wife without a problem. While others gave all respect to Sita, appreciating her unwavering devotion to her dear husband, Ravana wanted to enjoy her association in an unsanctioned manner.

Sita DeviTherefore Sita naturally wondered why his eyes had not fallen to the ground. Though both were addressed as anarya, Arjuna reformed himself by accepting the counsel of Krishna. Indeed, Arjuna is a liberated associate, always with Krishna wherever He is. Due to the Lord’s will to have the Bhagavad-gita propagated throughout society and future generations, He arranged to have Arjuna temporarily show ignorance of the Aryan culture.

Ravana was offered sound words of advice as well, though they weren’t nearly as detailed as the ones offered by Krishna. They didn’t have to be, as all Ravana had to do was return Sita to Rama. Then he would be considered a hero, a reformed criminal. Sadly, he didn’t accept her advice, proving that he was not to know the true value of life until God directly took everything away with His arrows at the time of death.

In Closing:

True value of life not knowing,

Into ignorance anarya going.


Arjuna once with this word addressed,

And also Ravana, who propriety transgressed.


Arjuna accepted wisdom, acquiring fame,

Sadly Ravana’s fate not to be the same.


Not until by Rama’s arrows shot,

Ravana to know that God he was not.