Saturday, July 5, 2014

Within Hearing

[Shri Hanuman]“Having thus thought over the matter in many ways, that great monkey addressed these sweet words that were within the hearing of Sita.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.1)

evam bahu vidhām cintām cintayitva mahākapiḥ |
saṃśrave madhuram vākyam vaidehyā vyājahāra ha ||

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Here Shri Hanuman is about to address Sita Devi, the distressed princess from the area known as Videha. Her father was the king of Videha, so she was known as Vaidehi, among many other endearing terms. To be known as the offspring of a great personality is an honor. The name Janaka itself elicits auspiciousness when heard by someone who knows the king’s qualities. Here Hanuman brings auspiciousness to Sita by preparing to speak sweet words about her dear husband, Shri Rama.

It’s the age old problem for the person with something to say. They have the message. They know how they will deliver it. They may even have skill in composition, in elucidating their innermost thoughts. The problem is finding others to hear. Who will want to listen? How will they receive the message? What is the best way to reach as many of the target audience as possible?

In devotional service, the desire is to spread the message far and wide. The difference, however, is that the helping hand of the Almighty takes care of the distribution. In times past the glories were spread by each person through their travels. Narada Muni is a son of Lord Brahma, the creator. Narada can travel anywhere; indeed he has to. From a curse put upon him Narada cannot stay anywhere for too long.

“A preacher is known as parivrajakacharya - an acharya, or teacher, who always travels for the benefit of human society. Prajapati Daksha cursed Narada Muni by saying that although he had the facility to travel all over the universe, he would never be able to stay in one place.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 6.5.43 Purport)

[Narada Muni]Narada uses this curse to his advantage. It allows him to keep moving and chanting the glories of the Lord. God is one. One religion may say He is this and another may say He is that, but the personalities they are addressing are identical. One group may only know so much about Him. Another group may have a particular sentiment directed towards Him based on the good fortune they have received in their local sphere. Regardless the motive, the Divine is always one.

Narada chants that Almighty’s glories all the time. Narada addresses His personality of Narayana. This is also a Sanskrit word that means “the source of all men.” Narayana is also known as Vishnu, or “the all-pervading one.” Narayana is also Krishna, or “the all-attractive one.” Narayana is Rama as well, who is the source of all transcendental pleasure. Narada spreads the message of divine love through chanting the holy names. By travelling, he ensures that others can hear him.

But for the devoted soul, simply chanting to oneself is not enough. They think, “It would be better if others would also accept the task of spreading the glorious sound of the holy name. This way the benefits will spread more quickly and multiply.” To that end, Narada inspires countless souls to glorify God in their own way. He inspires Vyasadeva to compose the sacred Bhagavata Purana, which specifically focuses on bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, and describes the nectarean pastimes of the Supreme Lord in His form of Shri Krishna, the darling of Vraja.

[Krishna's childhood pastimes]Narada also inspires Valmiki with devotional service. Valmiki then writes the Ramayana, from which the words in the above quoted verse are taken. With others inspired in devotional service, the range of hearing increases. With the passage of time, the range of hearing further increases with the massive distribution of literature, either physical or now electronic. Through all these mechanisms the problem for the devoted soul is solved by the Supreme Lord Himself. With an earnest desire to speak His glories, Narayana ensures that there is a suitable audience. Even when no one is around, the sound of the holy name is so powerful that the neighboring trees get a benefit. There is the benefit to the worshiper also, so just by chanting to oneself, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” there is at least one important person who hears the message.

Here Shri Hanuman prepares to speak sweet words about Rama. He will make sure that the words will be heard by Sita. Again, Rama ensures the success of the devotee. Hanuman’s desire is pure, and since he is such a wonderful soul, Rama provides to him the best audience in the world. Imagine if you were a recording artist who enjoyed playing live. Playing a concert will bring joy to you, for sure, but you get even more joy if the audience members like what you play. Now imagine if you could have an auditorium full of the people who would enjoy your music the most.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman had something similar with Sita, for no one takes more pleasure in hearing about Rama than her. And the servants of the same Sita and Rama take great pleasure in hearing about Hanuman. Therefore Valmiki composes the Ramayana’s “book of beauty.” The sacred words allow so many to come within audible range of the glorious activities of Shri Hanuman, the dedicated servant of the Supreme Lord who never fails in his most important tasks.

In Closing:

Thoughts in my head now to convey,

Mechanism decided, I know the way.


But how to find those willing to hear,

Above all else, this is my fear.


For the devoted soul, God Himself provides,

Gives audience, from within He guides.


Message of Rama to Sita was brought,

In her best audience Shri Hanuman got.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Words to Please Everyone

[Hanuman's heart]“Thus after carefully considering in many ways the situation with the wife of the Lord of the earth, while situated in the branches of the tree that great soul decided to speak words that were sweet and true.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.44)

iti sa bahu vidham mahāanubhāvo |
jagati pateḥ pramadām avekṣamāṇaḥ |
madhuram avitatham jagāda vākyam |
druma viṭapa antaram āsthito ||

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It is so easy to forget that we are not solely responsible for our good fortune. If I find a place in life where I am satisfied with my work, where my family life is going smoothly and there aren’t many issues, it’s easy to think that I am due all the credit. “Look at what I did. I followed the right way, and so that’s why I’m happy now. Others too could have done what I did, but they didn’t.” But in fact so many other factors have to cooperate in order for the good fortune to manifest. The proper way to pay honor to that cooperation is shown here by Shri Hanuman.

Consider this situation. My mother and father give me a happy home to live in as a child. They keep proper attention on me to make sure I study and don’t accidentally take the wrong road in life. As a result, in adulthood I feel I owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. I try to repay this debt by buying them things. I give my father a brand new car, a top of the line vehicle that will make him the envy of his friends. I send my mother on a vacation to a destination that she’s always wanted to visit.

I can continue down this route many times over, but generally the gifts alone will not make the parents any happier. They wish only that I am happy, for my happiness gives them pleasure. I could try another option: praise. I could daily sing the glories of their deeds, even writing books about how wonderful they are. Again, this likely wouldn’t make them so happy. It wouldn’t win over their hearts. They don’t feel they are fit to be praised in excess, and so they deflect the attention. With too much praise, they actually become upset.

In this scene from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman wants to let a stranger know that he comes in peace. He knows quite a bit about her. Her good qualities are without limit. Her character and her dedication to her husband are things of legend. The problem is that she doesn’t know him yet. She is in a difficult situation, surrounded by enemies who are not who they appear to be. They can change their shapes at will. They have no problem sinking to the lowest level to get what they want. So if she sees Hanuman, who is in the body of a monkey, it makes sense if she would consider him to be one of these ogres who were holding her against her will, keeping her separated from her dear husband.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman carefully considered the situation. He viewed things from all angles. He finally decided on speaking words that are sweet and true. These words will please Sita, and in fact anyone who is of the godly nature. The saints are the true benefactors in this world. It is their presence that makes life worth living. If everyone we encountered were a liar, a cheater, or a thief, we would give up hope completely. But it is the few saintly characters who let us know that there is some chance for goodness in this world. The qualities of the saintly people is what allows life to continue. The compassion the mother shows to the child in the womb allows it to emerge into this world alive. The kindness of strangers to feed the downtrodden allows them to continue living. The loving guidance of the parent allows the child to grow up to be a self-sustaining adult.

The godly qualities in full allow the individual to reach the full potential in this human birth, a birth that was achieved with great struggle. So many other species there are, but only the human has the chance to understand God. And God is everything, the sum total, the storehouse of all virtue. Knowing Him means knowing everything you need to know. Once you know Him, you won’t have any doubts as to your purpose in life. Knowing Him, you won’t have to take birth again, either.

[Bhagavad-gita, 4.9]“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.9)

So how to repay the immense debt owed to the saintly people? Hanuman here shows the way. Speak words that are true and sweet. To guarantee against any defect, against any flaw due to partiality, simply speak about Rama, who is the Lord of the earth and the husband of Sita. Speaking about Rama’s glories makes your words true. They become sweet as well, for Rama’s deeds are all wonderful. In His original form of Krishna He happily plays in the transcendental forest of Vrindavana. In His expansion of Vishnu, He effortlessly creates innumerable universes through exhaling. Rama Himself shows so much love to men and women of all different backgrounds. He makes friends with the oddest of people, and he has dedicated servants like Hanuman extending His glories through their heroic efforts.

[Shri Hanuman flying]There is a debt owed to Sita, for she supported Rama up until this point. And Rama was already so dear to Hanuman, so the dilemma was in how to repay Sita for her kindness. Hanuman here chooses wisely, giving the secret to others as well. To make your words effective, to rid them of defects, make them about God. If you have somewhat of an understanding of Him, these words will be sweet as well. And those who are not so skilled in composing words of praise, there is always the maha-mantra, reciting which has the same effect: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

To be believed there is a way,

Truthful words of God just say.


Of Rama they always to be sweet,

To please whichever ears they meet.


If I don’t know suppose,

Or no ability to compose?


Maha-mantra for all is there,

Recite and of Rama become aware.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Showing Your Truthfulness

[Lord Rama]“If I offer auspicious words, which are in line with dharma, about the self-realized Rama, the most excellent prince of the Ikshvaku dynasty, saying these words in a sweet voice in hearing me she will believe me, for I will compose everything accordingly so.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.42-43)

ikṣvākūṇām variṣṭhasya rāmasya vidita ātmanaḥ ||
śubhāni dharma yuktāni vacanāni samarpayan |
śrāvayiṣyāmi sarvāṇi madhurām prabruvan giram ||
śraddhāsyati yathā hi iyam tathā sarvam samādadhe |

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Sita was of the saintly nature. From this we know that she automatically thought well of others. She saw the spirit inside of them; she was not deceived by the outward dress shown at first glance. She offered respect to those who deserved it. She behaved as the person in authority when the time called for it. This innocent nature left her vulnerable to the tricks of a person of the most wicked deeds. He had donned the garb of a humble person, taking advantage of Sita’s kind nature. He then gave up the ruse and forcibly took her back to his own kingdom, ignoring the fact that she was already happily married and wanted nothing to do with him. A saintly person later on had to approach the same Sita, and he remembered the deception previously played on her. He used that knowledge to figure out the best way to make her know that he was a truthful person.

How do we let someone know that we’re being honest in a situation where they are otherwise skeptical? A child has this problem due merely to their youth. If they see something extraordinary and then report on it to the parents, they will have a hard time selling the story. “Oh dear child, your imagination must be running wild. There is no possible way such a thing could have happened.” Indeed, even in spiritual affairs such things occur. When the Supreme Lord descended to earth in His original form of Shri Krishna, one time He knocked down a pair of trees using the mortar He was tied to. Mother Yashoda had bound Him to that mortar as punishment for intentionally breaking a pot of butter. The other young children in the neighborhood saw what Krishna did with the mortar. When they reported the incident to the elders, the elders did not believe them.

“While the elderly cowherd men were thus contemplating, the small children who were playing there informed the men that the trees fell due to Krishna's pulling the wooden mortar with the ropes to which He was bound. ‘Krishna came in between the two trees,’ they explained, ‘and the wooden mortar was topsy-turvied and stuck in between the trees. Krishna began to pull the rope, and the trees fell down. When the trees fell down, two very dazzling men came out of the trees, and they began to talk to Krishna.’” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 11)

[Krishna with arjuna trees]In the case of a devoted warrior a long time ago the message was urgent. That message would give so much help to the distressed princess Sita, who was stranded in the Ashoka grove in Lanka, with no means for rescue due to the offensive Rakshasas living in the town. Hanuman had life-giving news. Rama was going to come to rescue her. Rama was her dear husband, the same Krishna but in a different incarnation, one that roamed the earth during the Treta Yuga, the second time period of creation.

Hanuman wanted to tell Sita everything, but how was she going to believe him? Ravana had already deceived her. Lanka was infested with creatures of a similar mindset. Therefore it was possible for any of them to come up to her and lie. Hanuman arrived at the right decision, though. Here he shares with us the logic behind his move.

He will offer auspicious words about Rama, keeping in line with dharma. Thus far, all the Rakshasas in Lanka had been offering inauspicious words. They had said that Rama would not come to rescue her, that He was a pauper, not a real prince. Their words went against dharma, for Rama is the ultimate truth itself. Any denial of Rama’s position, any attack made against His character, or any weakness erroneously attributed to Him goes against dharma.

[Lord Rama]Hanuman would speak of the most excellent prince of the Ikshvaku dynasty. This would distinguish Rama from others with a similar name. Hanuman would speak of how Rama was self-realized; He was not driven by the illusion of lust, as were Ravana and his men. Most importantly, these words from Hanuman would be sweet. They would not be terrorizing the way that all the other words had previously been towards Sita in Lanka.

From this approach, Sita would believe Hanuman. For the impious, their guiding principle is their challenge to God. They inherently go against Him, and so when they speak, they can say anything but praise of His attributes. To fit in with various social circles, they may casually admit that He exists, but they will stop there. They will never speak of His glories. They will never sing of His features, for if they did, others might believe them. If others believed the words about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the impious man’s influence diminishes.

The sweet words about Rama from the likes of Hanuman catch the ears of the saintly class of men. All other truths are relative, so it is not possible to know for sure if someone is telling the truth or not. When one praises Rama, their speech is beyond reproach. It is the embodiment of truth, and so truth-detectors like Sita are put at ease.

In Closing:

Even when speaking the truth,

Hard to believe is the youth.


Sita previously by Ravana deceived,

So how Hanuman’s message to be believed?


Of Shri Rama he would speak,

And in line with dharma he would keep.


Praising His attributes in tone sweet,

Success in convincing Sita he’d meet.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Effortless Actions

[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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Shri Hanuman has impeccable credentials when it comes to knowledge of the Supreme Lord in His spiritual manifestation as a warrior prince named Rama, who to the eyes of the world appeared as the eldest son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Just as a scholar who studies a particular field or personality for many years is consulted for their expertise on that subject matter, Shri Hanuman is the person to approach for learning about the inner workings of the prince of the seemingly humble guise, who was very silent in His speech but inconceivably potent in His ability to defend. Here Hanuman gives us one angle of vision with which to view Rama. Rama is of effortless actions.

In school when we have a paper to write, we procrastinate so much.

“Oh, let me take care of my other responsibilities first. Oh, let me take some rest for a few hours. Then I’ll be refreshed. I’ll be able to think more clearly. Oh, that paper isn’t due for a few weeks, so there’s no rush in completing it. Oh, I don’t know what I’m going to write, so let me wait a little bit more until an idea comes to me.”

Writing is a mental effort, but similar fears are there with projects of the physical nature.

“Oh, I don’t want to go to the gym. Maybe there’s another way I can lose weight. You know what? Starting tomorrow I’ll try to eat less. I’ll watch my diet. Anything I can do outside of exercising, I’ll take. I was so tired the last time I worked out. I can’t go through that again.”

When there is a forecast for snow, there is a similar fear.

“I don’t want to shovel again. That is such a pain. How am I going to travel to work? How am I going to go to the store if I need food? This will be terrible. I really hate it when it snows.”

In these situations, the fear is caused by knowledge of the difficulty of the work. Perhaps there is a previous negative experience contributing to the anxiety. Perhaps the fear is due to the unknown. If one has never written a paper of considerable length before, the task seems formidable.

[Rama, Sita and Lakshmana roaming the forest]In comparison, Shri Rama has done much more difficult things. In His time on earth, He roamed the forest with His wife and His younger brother, following the protocol of vanaprastha life. This is an ashrama, or spiritual institution, and it is generally reserved for those who have completed twenty-five years of married life. Sort of like a retirement on wheels, in this ashrama one gives up a fixed home and learns to live off very little. Rama entered this difficult spiritual institution at a young age due to some family infighting.

Rama also once lifted an extremely heavy bow in an assembly of the strongest princes in the world. None of them could even move that bow. They wanted to lift it very badly, as the prize was the hand in marriage of the daughter of King Janaka. Rama not only lifted it, but strung it and broke it as well. This was all done effortlessly, in the blink of an eye as a matter of fact.

“Hearing the words of the vipra, my father brought the bow forward. Bending the bow in the twinkling of an eye and applying string to it, the mighty prince Rama, who was full of valor, quickly drew the bow at full length.” (Sita Devi speaking to Anasuya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.47-48)

[Rama lifting the bow]These deeds are difficult, but still conceivable to the mind. Rama is so great that He does amazing things without effort as well. One time He fended off 14,000 attacking ogres all by Himself. They wanted to kill Him. Their justification was that He had offended their leader’s sister, who had visited Rama in the forest. That sister threatened Rama’s wife, and so Rama’s younger brother sent her away with a disfigured face. That female ogre’s brother retaliated by sending his best fighters to do away with Rama. Unfortunately for them, they would never see their leader again.

These are some of Rama’s deeds up until the point in time of the above referenced verse from the Ramayana. After making this statement, Hanuman would see Rama build a bridge across an ocean using rocks that floated. He would see Rama win back Sita from the clutches of the evil Ravana using an army of monkeys, who would use trees and rocks as their weapons.

In this way we see that Rama extends His potency to those who serve Him with heart and soul. What seems difficult becomes easy due to the nature of the servant. Shri Hanuman himself had leapt across a massive ocean. He was working for Rama, whose actions are effortless. The Lord empowered the dearest Hanuman. In this situation too, Rama’s potency is passed on to Hanuman in the form of wisdom from within. The devoted messenger has found Sita after a long journey and now is considering the best course of action for notifying her of Rama’s intention to come and rescue her.

In His other forms, Rama effortlessly creates the entire universe and then destroys it. In His form of Vishnu, He simply exhales to create innumerable universes. When He inhales, everything comes back into Him. Thus both creation and destruction are accomplished almost involuntarily. We tax our brains to complete creative writing assignments. We put our body through so much simply to clear the driveway to get the car out after a snowstorm. Rama creates on the grandest scale, and then destroys everything again, and to Him both are as easy as breathing in and out.

[Shri Hanuman]Here Hanuman is about to narrate the glories of Shri Rama. Of all tasks for the mind, this would seem to be the most difficult. This is because the glories of Rama are endless. The Ramayana is thousands of verses, and though perfectly composed, they don’t finish the story of Rama and His dearest servants like Hanuman. Nevertheless, due to the grace of the man of effortless deeds, the devoted soul is able to succeed in such a task, deriving so much pleasure from it that they never want to stop.

In Closing:

Writing assignment taxes the brain ours,

Knowing that work to require many hours.


Rama so many amazing things can do,

Accomplished without any effort too.


To His dearest servants extends the potency,

Writing and singing His glories proficiently.


From love to accomplish anything desired,

Hanuman, by his work this heart inspired.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


[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.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Two Saintly People

[Hanuman's heart]“’And how will she hear me without being frightened?’ Thinking in this way to himself, the wise Hanuman resolved in his mind as follows:” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.40)

katham nu khalu vākyam me śṛṇuyān na udvijeta ca ||
iti sancintya hanumān cakāra matimān matim |

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A saintly person should not let others frighten them and they should also not frighten others. In the situation referenced above, two saintly people are about to meet, so both rules are in play. Hanuman, the messenger sent to Lanka by Shri Rama to look for the missing princess of Videha, is concerned about frightening Sita, who is Rama’s wife. He has very good news to give to her, but he doesn’t want something to get lost during the presentation.

Why the concern? In Sita’s circumstance, so many things weren’t what they seemed. The dreaded trip to Lanka started with a ruse. The king of Lanka, Ravana, approached her in the guise of a mendicant. Ravana was the furthest thing from a saintly person. He saw distinctions between the different classes. He thought only of his own welfare. This was his first priority. Never mind property rights. Never mind respecting others, allowing them to live their lives. Fiery lust trounces logic and sound reasoning.

[Ravana in disguise]Ravana’s lust was so strong that he cleverly changed his guise to show a more innocent face. This was a trick, and it played on Sita’s kind nature. She and her husband are both very benevolent to the saintly class. They know that such a class of men is required for a properly functioning society. Not everyone will be wise. Not everyone will be free of discrimination in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, or even species. The same person who has so much affection for their dog that they sleep with it at night has no problem with the innocent mother cow being sent to the slaughterhouse. The same person who endured discrimination at the hands of others while growing up in a specific region has no problem prejudging members of other races when they are an adult.

A real saint does not suffer from these defects. They are benevolent to all. They see the spiritual identity within all creatures. As they know that this vision is difficult to maintain, they adopt a certain lifestyle conducive to the proper consciousness. They avoid situations that create friends and enemies. They steer clear of profit and loss, as there is always some exploitation and dishonesty involved in such ventures. The successful seller does not reveal their profit margin and the shrewd consumer does not reveal how much they are actually willing to pay for something.

Ravana was so far from a saint that he tried to steal another man’s wife. He thought he had succeeded with his ruse when he brought Sita back to Lanka, but there was one problem. She wanted nothing to do with him. Ravana still foolishly held on to a glimmer of hope, and during that time Hanuman made the courageous and difficult journey to Lanka and found Sita.

[Hanuman]Sita was dear to Rama, so she was dear to Hanuman. Hanuman is dear to the world because he is a saintly character. Therefore the meeting between Sita and Hanuman should have been smooth. They were of similar mind. Still, here Hanuman deliberates over how best to make the initial approach to Sita, who is in distress due to separation from her husband. Hanuman does not want to disturb her, an attitude in accord with the saintly nature.

The course of action revealed in the next few verses in the Ramayana is quite instructive. Hanuman simply praises Rama, who is God. God is not the sole property of any group of individuals. He does not belong only to one religion. Just as the sun shines down on all, the spiritual energy exists within every sphere. Both in the large and the small, the presence of spirit is undeniable. Rama is the personality behind the spiritual energy. He is God’s manifestation specific to a time and circumstance long ago.

Though Ravana would resort to pretty much any kind of trickery, he would never praise Rama in such a manner. The atheist will lie to get what they want. They will cheat others into thinking that chemicals are the real deity in the world and that the person who can best manipulate these chemicals becomes worthy of honor. They will kill the innocent child in the womb to satisfy their desires for sex. They will kill the innocent animal to satisfy their tongue. They will stoop to any level, but they will never praise the Supreme Lord to get what they want. Inherently they are against Him, and so they cannot bring themselves towards praising someone who is factually superior to them in all respects.

Even if a person should accept this route in a dishonest fashion, they are actually benefited. Such is the power of the name of God, that it can purify the worst sinner. Therefore even if Ravana had praised Rama as a ruse to get something that he wanted, both he and those within audible range of those words would have been benefitted.

[Lord Rama]Hanuman was genuine, and so his words would have even more meaning. If someone is passionate about what they do, it shows in their work. Spend enough time with a fraud, and you’ll eventually sniff them out. Courtesy of the Ramayana of Valmiki, we get to spend much time with Hanuman, and so his true nature shines through. Sita would see it as well, and the two saintly characters so dear to Rama would give countless generations words and actions of nectar to savor.

In Closing:

One’s heart on particular object set,

Sometimes lie for desire to be met.


This the way of the saints is not,

Vision of spiritual equality they have got.


When Hanuman first Sita Devi to meet,

To introduce with praise of Rama to speak.


Ravana never this option to choose,

Despite previously using ruse.


With him spend enough time,

And Hanuman’s true nature to shine.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Feeling The Grace of God

[Krishna and Chaitanya]“Lord Chaitanya recommended that the greatest achievement of human life is to achieve the grace of the Lord, love of God. He said, prema pumartho mahan: to achieve love of Godhead is the highest perfection of life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.23.8 Purport)

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In comparison to the man upstairs, the human being is an infant. He always remains so. He is fully dependent on the will of the supreme, who indirectly provides for his needs through the material nature. This nature is the inferior energy, a force which the living entity mistakenly first identifies for their personal enjoyment. In spite of whatever rise to success may occur, man is still dependent on this nature, and so they are always inferior to God. They survive in the world through the Lord’s mercy alone. Just like the helpless child who is raised to adulthood by the love of the parents, the living entity who is fully dependent on the higher forces cannot exist without the love of God. When they finally reciprocate that love, they reach the greatest achievement in life. That love will carry them forward, allowing them to be happy in any situation.

Consider this scenario. Two people are vying for an important post in the government. This is a newly created position, one that will have vast responsibilities. The pay will be good, and the benefits can’t be found in the private sector. The office holder gets a pension for life after serving only a few years. Not surprisingly, there is competition for the position, and in the end it comes down to two people.

Both realize that fate is not entirely in their hands. They thus decide to pray to God to help them. One person says:

“O Lord, please help me. I could really use this job. I would perform my duties very well, trust me. I know I’ve asked you for so many things in the past, but if you could help me out this one time, I promise never to ask for anything ever again.”

The other person says:

“O Lord, I just know that you’ll come through for me this time. My whole life has been wonderful. I have hardly endured any suffering. I live with so much goodness around me. I can share my experiences with others if I get this post. I promise to worship you so much if I get this position. Please help me.”

We don’t even have to know the outcome to understand that one person will be disappointed here. To the person getting the position, with their good fortune does it mean that they have felt the grace of God? And the person losing out, have they suffered the wrath of the Supreme Lord? Is this what God has been reduced to, a run of the mill order supplier? Is He a delivery man who has to pick which route to take?

Lord Chaitanya says that the greatest achievement in life is to have love of God. When you have prema, pure love, for Him then you’ll know that you’ve been graced by Him. All other achievements are merely temporary, not that important, and not even always auspicious. The person who is happy to have gotten the position could end up hating it. They could make an honest mistake and become the target of a huge investigation that ruins their reputation with the public. The person losing out could find some other job that makes them even happier. Thus what one person considers grace is actually a curse, while to another the supposed wrath is the real blessing.

[Worshiping Radha and Krishna]Prema for Krishna, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is not easy to achieve. Sure, the devotion is easy to practice. Just chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Visit the house of worship and offer obeisances in full faith. Hear about His pastimes in works like the Shrimad Bhagavatam and Ramayana. Commune with the saints and accept their wisdom.

The implementation is easy but the decision to practice is the most difficult one to make. Therefore to have real love for God is indeed the greatest achievement. It is rarely attained, even after many births and deaths. Once you get it, though, you have something you can survive on. You won’t need anything else. Whether you have a family or live all by yourself, your love for Krishna will carry you through. Whether you have a lot of money or not a penny to your name, you can still survive knowing that you have so much love for God.

Krishna already loves all the living entities through the resources He provides in the material nature. When the living entity develops prema for Him, the divine love arrives in a more direct fashion. The guiding hand of the Almighty maintains what the devotee has and gives to them what they lack. That which is lacking refers to the ability to act off the prema. So the person with Krishna-prema gets whatever they need to practice their devotion. There is no doubt about this, as so many saints from the great history of Vedic culture serve as proof.

The person who has love for God has truly been graced by Him. They can also help others to reach that rare achievement. They do this by speaking about Krishna’s glories, explaining the science of self-realization, and exposing the folly of focusing on material pursuits alone. The information they pass on is unique in itself, and the reward from accepting this information with sincerity is the chance to capture the elusive achievement of the human life.

In Closing:

Only when something happens to me good,

Is the grace of God coming understood?


What about to one who reward not to get,

With Lord’s wrath have they met?


Love for God is life’s achievement real,

Known when conscious of Him you feel.


Devotion easy in theory, but hardly any to dare,

Thus pinnacle achievement coming to one rare.