Saturday, September 20, 2014

Attached Though Detached

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Closing:

Though God by Himself all can do,

Not against taking help from others too.


Like monkeys by Sugriva sent,

In search of Sita they went.


Rama previously renunciation shown,

Not worried thus for reputation His own.


Rather to alleviate wife in sore distress,

Who by Hanuman’s association soon to be blessed.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Not a Sour Grapes Renunciation

[Rama slaying Vali]“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 |

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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)

[Bhagavan]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 sammohaḥ
sammohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥ
smṛti-bhraṁśād buddhi-nāśo
buddhi-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.

[Lord Rama]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 daityānāṁ
kālaḥ kalayatām aham
mṛgāṇāṁ ca mṛgendro 'haṁ
vainateyaś 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.

[Rama slaying Vali]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.

In Closing:

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.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rama’s Friends

[Rama with Sugriva]“Along the path towards finding the irreproachable and goddess-like Sita, in the forest that Rama met the monkey named Sugriva, who became His friend.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.11)

sa mārgamāṇastām devīm rāmaḥ sītāmannditām ||
āsasāda vane mitram sugrīvam nāma vānaram |

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You can tell a lot about a person based on their friends. With whom do they spend their time? What sort of people do they value? If they surround themselves with liars, cheats and thieves, it means that likely they are of the same character. If they choose to be with men and women of the saintly character, they are probably of the same nature, or at least striving to be. The Supreme Lord is unique in that He is tied to every single individual. Thus He can find friends anywhere, and due to their relationship to Him, such individuals automatically assume a high stature.

[New York skyline at night]There is a nice verse in the Bhagavad-gita which describes how consciousness spreads throughout the body. Shri Krishna, who is the same Rama but in His original form, says that just as the single sun illuminates the entire universe, so the individual spirit soul gives life to the entire body. We can think of it like the electricity that goes into the home. From a single source everything gets lit. The light in the upstairs bedroom and the light in the living room have their own switches. One can be turned off and another on. They are independent in this sense, but they get their energy from the same source. In the same way, the entire body, which has various components, gets its life from the soul. Without the soul, nothing in the body works.

“The consciousness of the living entity, although qualitatively one with the supreme consciousness, is not supreme because the consciousness of one particular body does not share that of another body. But the Supersoul, which is situated in all bodies as the friend of the individual soul, is conscious of all bodies.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 13.34 Purport)

This truth informs us that the soul is very powerful, but it is still not the most powerful. That is because the vital force within one body is not the vital force within another. My consciousness is different from your consciousness. This is not the case with the supreme consciousness, which belongs to God. He is in my body as well as yours. In fact, we are expansions from Him, which means that He is actually the life of all that lives. He is conscious of both my activities and yours.

Since He is the supreme consciousness, God is automatically everyone’s best friend. How good a friend is He? No matter how we treat Him, He will stay with us. Sure, if we behave badly, through the laws of the material nature that He creates we get cast into the lower species. Even with this descent the Lord still accompanies us. The supreme consciousness never leaves us; we only forget about it due to our misdeeds.

The concept of the supreme consciousness is the theoretical way to understand how God is everyone’s best friend. The historical accounts of His many activities on this earth give the tangible proof to the fact. God can make friends with anyone. Sita Devi, the wife of the Lord in His incarnation as Shri Rama, knows this very well. While she was residing in the forest of Dandaka with her husband, the evil King of Lanka, Ravana, stole her away in secret. While God is everyone’s friend, Ravana was pretty much everyone’s enemy. Even his friends were only there for convenience’s sake; he liked them because of what they could do for him.

[Rama and Lakshmana with Jatayu]As Ravana was taking Sita back to Lanka via the aerial route, he was initially interrupted by a vulture named Jatayu. This bird was a friend to Rama. A vulture is not considered an auspicious creature, but this soul was very pious and held affection for Rama. Sita already knew Rama’s nature, and in Jatayu she once again saw how God has friends from all walks of life.

Therefore it wasn’t surprising to her later when she heard that Rama made friends with a monkey named Sugriva. This occurred after Sita vanished from sight in the forest. Rama met Sugriva while looking for her. Sita did not know this previously; here she is learning of the fact from Hanuman. This description sets the table for understanding how Hanuman, who is also a monkey, is Rama’s friend as well.

If Rama makes friends with all sorts of creatures, from human beings to animals, why wouldn’t one desire to be His friend? Rama does not discriminate, as the less intelligent religiously minded sometimes do. He does not consider one person to be higher and another to be lower based simply on their bodily appearance. He knows that each individual is eligible for the highest achievement in life, residence in the supreme abode. A desire alone sparks the journey towards that residence.

[Monkeys building bridge for Rama]A simple act in friendship reveals the presence of that desire. Sugriva and Hanuman were Rama’s friends, and today they have a very high stature. Sita too is a blameless divine lady. In fact, anyone associated with Rama in friendship has a high stature, making Rama the true touchstone. The most fallen can turn into the most respected through affection for Him, which is shown through remembering Him and saying His names with love: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

From creatures large and small,

Rama can make friends with them all.


Doesn’t matter from where they came,

Like Jatayu and monkey Sugriva named.


One an inauspicious vulture,

A forest dwelling monkey the other.


Supreme consciousness, Rama to discriminate not,

From sincere desire alone best friend you’ve got.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rama and Ravana

[Rama shooting arrows]“Hearing of the killing in Janasthana and the killing of Khara and Dushana, unable to tolerate the offense Ravana took away Sita by deceiving Rama using the illusion of the form of a deer.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.10)

jana sthāna vadham śrutvā hatau ca khara dūṣaṇau |
tataḥ tu amarṣa apahṛtā jānakī rāvaṇena tu ||
vañcayitvā vane rāmaṃ mṛgarūpeṇa māyayā |

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In the Ramayana the qualities of the various characters are quite apparent. It’s no secret who the good guys are. It’s very easy to spot the bad guys as well. From two factors at play, however, things can get distorted. One is the passage of time, where others develop their own misconceptions from not having actually read the work, but rather relying on information from second and third hand sources who are often unreliable. The second factor is the jealousy of the conditioned living entity which caused their descent into the ocean of birth and death in the first place. Envious of the position of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, some purposefully misinterpret the great work known as the Ramayana, looking to give Rama a bad name while propping up His staunchest opponents. Shri Hanuman, an authority on such matters having impeccable credentials, here removes all doubts as to which of the Ramayana’s characters are valorous and which are worthy of shame.

[Hanuman]The distorted view goes something like this:

“Rama was bad and Ravana was good. I know that Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, tries to tell you otherwise. He wants you to believe that Rama is God, and he makes Ravana out to be the archetypal enemy of the Lord, someone who goes against the laws of the Divine. Yet Ravana wasn’t so bad, if you think about it. He defended his sister when she was needlessly attacked in the Dandaka forest. Ravana took Rama’s wife in revenge, but then he never laid a hand on her. When the time came, Ravana fought Rama himself, whilst Rama used monkeys to do His fighting for Him. Ravana was a good brother, whereas Rama eventually left Sita to live by herself. So I’d rather be like Ravana than Rama.”

The less intelligent will buy such nonsense, but when armed with any knowledge of the facts, this presentation falls flat on its face. In the verse preceding the one referenced above from the Ramayana, Hanuman praises Shri Rama in a way that cannot be replicated by any other person. Brevity is the soul of wit, as Shakespeare says, and in a few lines Hanuman gave so much valid information about Rama.

Hanuman said that Rama killed many valiant Rakshasas in the massive forest. Rama did this while hunting, as if for sport. And the Rakshasas could assume any shape they desired. This means that Rama was honorable. He was chivalrous in the fight. Rama only used a bow and arrow set. He did not hide who He was. He did not run away from the enemy. Meanwhile, the enemy always changed their shape, using this ability as a strategic advantage. The forest was vast also, which means that the enemy had plenty of room to maneuver. Rama was walking on foot. Only God could pull off the feat described by Hanuman.

[Lord Rama]In this verse, Hanuman is equally as brilliant in his description. This time he describes Ravana, the leader of the Rakshasas who could change their shapes at will. Previously Hanuman described how Rama left home voluntarily. This was at the command of His father, King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Rama had done nothing wrong, but in family business sometimes there are major disagreements. For no reason, brothers quarrel with one another over trivial matters such as not being officially invited to an important occasion or not visiting often enough. Rama was blameless, and yet He tolerated an unfair punishment without any issue.

Hanuman says that Ravana was unable to tolerate the offense of Rama killing his men. Actually, there was no offense committed. Rama was minding His own business. He was living peacefully with His wife Sita and His younger brother Lakshmana. It was Ravana’s sister who had first bothered them. She tried to attack Sita and so Lakshmana defended her. In response, Ravana sent 14,000 of his fighters to attack the harmless trio. When called to action, Rama stepped up and defended Himself and His family. He singlehandedly defeated all 14,000 fighters, including Ravana’s two best men, Khara and Dushana.

“One's inability to tolerate an offense committed by another is called amarsha, and one's inability to tolerate the opulence of another is called jealousy. Jealousy and amarsha are both caused by intolerance.” (The Nectar of Devotion, 31)

[The Nectar of Devotion]The word used here by Hanuman is amarsha, which means the inability to tolerate. This term is unflattering in this context and it contrasts nicely with Rama’s extreme tolerance. Ravana had no reason to be upset at Rama, for the Lord was merely defending Himself. But Ravana couldn’t tolerate it; he had to take revenge. In his anger, he took Sita away from Rama. Upon hearing only this you would think that Ravana defeated Rama, that he fought valiantly.

Hanuman clears up any confusion by describing how Ravana took Sita. Ravana employed deception. Whereas Rama fought in the open against foes who could assume any shape they desired, Ravana assumed the guise of a brahmana to approach Sita. Also, he created the illusion of a deer, which then lured Rama and Lakshmana away from the scene. In short, Ravana acted like a coward, not a hero.

[Lord Rama]Words like these coming from Hanuman were never heard in Lanka; no one dared speak the truth. For this reason his words were significant. Hanuman uttered them to Sita, who was still in Lanka against her will. By Hanuman’s descriptions, she would know that he was a friend, not a cheater like the king of Lanka and his people. In reaching out to Sita, Hanuman also correctly explained the positions of both Rama and Ravana.

In Closing:

Speculations about Ramayana you can make,

But truth from Hanuman I’ll take.


Authority like him not another to find,

Truthful, courageous, and of intelligent mind.


In great forest like hero Rama to act,

And Ravana like coward in revenge to exact.


Time and ignorance true meaning to distort,

Therefore the wise to words of Hanuman resort.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Demon Slayer

[Rama slaying demon]“In that great forest, while going around hunting He killed many valiant demons who could assume any shape they desired.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.9)

tena tatra mahāaraṇye mṛgayām paridhāvatā |
rākṣasā nihatāḥ śūrā bahavaḥ kāmarūpiṇaḥ ||

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There is a legend which says that Shri Hanuman once wrote down his own accounts of the life of Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord who appeared on earth in an incarnation form to protect the pious and annihilate the miscreants, which the Bhagavad-gita says God does from time to time. The most famous accounts of Rama’s life come from the Ramayana, an epic Sanskrit poem authored by Maharishi Valmiki. This particular legend says that Hanuman’s attempt at a Ramayana was so good that after seeing it Valmiki felt ashamed at his own work. Not liking this effect, Hanuman immediately destroyed his work, the Hanumad Ramayana. From this particular verse in Valmiki’s Ramayana, we see how that story is plausible, as Hanuman shows his unique expertise in praising the Supreme Lord.

[Rama and brothers at school of the guru]Rama appeared in the race of the kshatriya, which are like fighters. In times past, the members of this class were raised in this culture from the beginning. They didn’t go to school and have people ask them, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The guru, or spiritual master, knew by judging the qualities of the students. In pious families, the children followed the lead of the parents. Rama and His three younger brothers were trained to be expert defenders. They were groomed to follow the example of their father, King Dasharatha of Ayodhya.

Not surprisingly, on occasion Rama would release arrows from His bow. To say that He fought sometimes is not an extraordinary statement. Here Hanuman is describing Rama to Sita Devi, Rama’s wife. Why would Hanuman need to make such a description? Does not Sita already know everything about her husband? The setting here is an enemy territory. The inhabitants are enemies to Rama. Actually, no one should be God’s enemy, since the Supreme Lord is the well-wishing friend of all living entities. He is the supreme enjoyer of all sacrifices and austerities and the proprietor of all planets, including ours.

bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ
suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ
jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati

“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.29)

In Lanka there was animosity towards Rama; hence the classification of its people as enemies. If Sita were to hear anyone describing Rama, it would not be in positive terms. Therefore Hanuman had to go the extra mile. He had to describe Rama in such a way that Sita would know that he had come in peace, which he indeed had. He was sent by Rama to look for her, for she had gone missing while the couple was residing in the Dandaka forest.

[Rama holding bow]In describing Rama’s kshatriya nature, Hanuman could have simply said that Rama sometimes killed enemies. But here the description is much more detailed. The extra terms added are not exaggeration; they provide more accuracy to the definition of Rama’s characteristics pertinent to His occupation. It is said that Rama went into a great forest. In the preceding verse, Hanuman described how Rama went into the forest at the command of His father. Rama took Sita with Him as well as Lakshmana, His younger brother. Hanuman here tells us that this forest was great, maha-aranya.

Rama killed many demons while in that great forest. Hanuman says that this occurred while Rama was hunting. Today a hunter goes out into the wild with a gun, making for quite an unfair fight against the animals of the wild. Rama was a single man with a bow and arrow set. He hunted not ordinary animals either. His prey consisted of Rakshasas. These were demons, evil creatures. They were not ordinary Rakshasas either. Hanuman says that they were valiant.

This description alone suffices, but Hanuman goes further still. These valiant demons could assume any shape at will. So you have a man who voluntarily left His comfortable home for the expansive forest, carrying with Him only a bow and arrow set. While hunting, for sport basically, He killed many demons who were valiant. These demons could assume any shape they desired, kama-rupa. This means that Rama’s feat was the most amazing. In a fair fight you at least know what your opponent looks like. But what if your opponent could change their appearance at any second? How will you defeat them? This was the problem Rama faced, and yet it was not a problem for Him.

From this single verse we get a beautiful and accurate description for God. Hanuman’s words go well beyond the abstract. God is not an elusive figure whose features are left up to the imagination. His features are incomprehensible, but through His actions on the earthly plane we get a slight idea of them. Only Hanuman could provide such a wonderful description, and in hearing it Sita knew that Rama’s messenger had arrived.

In Closing:

As Rama so well he knows,

Hanuman with grace describing Him so.


Rama voluntarily into forest great,

For sport killed demons of changing shape.


Shows that with ease was done,

By Rama, of potency matched by none.


As so perfectly Rama he described,

Sita knew His messenger had arrived.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Respecting Another’s Parents

[Leaving for the forest]“On the word of His aged father, a man always steady in truth, accompanied by His wife and His brother that hero renounced home for the forest.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.8)

tasya satya abhisandhasya vṛddhasya vacanāt pituḥ |
sabhāryaḥ saha ca bhrātrā vīraḥ pravrajito vanam ||

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There are many ways to define a friend. They are someone who is there for you in a time of need. If you are driving on a dirt road and suddenly the tires get stuck in sand, your friend is there to give a helping hand. They call for help or they think of other ways to rescue you. Because you are in difficulty, they are as well. They take your pain as theirs.

[car stuck in the dirt]Another way to tell a friend is that they respect the people whom you respect, especially those who are the most important to you. For instance, if you love your parents, your friend will respect them too. They will not point out any of the visible flaws in your parents. Even if you say bad things about your mother and father, a true friend will not cross that line, knowing how important the parents are to you.

In this verse from the Valmiki Ramayana, Hanuman gives further evidence of his being the best friend to Shri Rama, the husband of the distressed princess named Sita. Sita and Rama are the most important people in the world. One is the Supreme Lord Himself and the other is His energy. The energy can do anything, being empowered by the energetic. And yet that energy is fully devoted to the energetic, incapable of separating in interest.

The living entities in this world are sparks of the same energy, yet they are neither as potent nor as perfect. They struggle hard with the six senses, which include the mind. They are born into delusion, bewildered by the dualities of desire and hate. One second they love their spouse and the next they can’t wait to file for divorce. One second they dive into a bowl of ice cream and an hour later they regret having done so.

mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke
jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
prakṛti-sthāni karṣati

“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.7)

[Hanuman]With respect for Sita and Rama, everything can be fixed. The eternal position of blissfulness can be found once again. The way towards transcendence is not difficult; one merely has to find a friend of Rama’s. Hanuman is one such friend, and from this verse he shows us what goes into achieving such a status.

Hanuman says that Rama renounced His home for the forest. He gave up everything, but His wife and His younger brother came with Him. It was not that Rama was so attached that He could not live without them. Rather, being the ocean of mercy, so compassionate towards His devotees, Rama allowed Sita and Lakshmana to accompany Him at their insistence.

Rama renounced home at the word of His aged father, King Dasharatha. Hanuman says that Dasharatha always spoke the truth. In saying this, he pays the famous king the highest compliment. These words were heard by Sita Devi in the Ashoka grove in Lanka, where she was separated from Rama due to the wicked deeds of the Rakshasa named Ravana.

An enemy to Rama would have easily found fault with Dasharatha. They would have called the king lusty for having made two promises previously to his youngest wife named Kaikeyi. They would have called the king weak for lacking the courage to break a promise made to a helpless woman. Hanuman is a true friend, however, and he knows how important Dasharatha is to Sita and Rama.

As one would respect the parents of their friend, one would also give respect to the important friends of their friend. In this regard, Hanuman shines as the best friend. He is loved so much by Sita and Rama. Hanuman abides by the truth as well. He risked his life in his brave journey across the ocean to Lanka. To travel such a distance by airplane today is not easy in the least. Anti-anxiety pills are necessary due to the stressful conditions in only sitting in a seat inside of an airplane. Imagine crossing the same ocean in a boat, which has no easy escape route in case of emergency. Then imagine crossing the same ocean by leaping, where you have to rely solely on your own abilities.

[Hanuman crossing the ocean]Hanuman did just that and so much more, all due to his love for Sita and Rama. He is the best friend to have, and he is the best person to respect. Not requiring anything in life, pleasure comes to him most from seeing devotion to Sita and Rama, which is best practiced today through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Many ways to test,

To see if your friend is the best.


To your parents giving respect,

This at the very least to expect.


Hanuman in Lanka to Sita displayed,

Knowledge of Dasharatha, honor duly paid.


To Sita and Rama a friend like him none,

Through devotion to them his heart won.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Protector Of All Living Entities

[Rama's lotus foot]“That chastiser of the foe is a protector of His good conduct and of His people. He is also a protector of all living entities and of righteousness.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.7)

rakṣitā svasya vṛttasya sva janasya api rakṣitā |
rakṣitā jīva lokasya dharmasya ca paran tapaḥ ||

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Shri Hanuman here says that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is a guardian of all living entities. This means that beyond just the human population, all creatures, large and small, get protection from the Supreme Lord. Hanuman is an impeccable authority source; his credibility is too high to measure. Yet if God protects all, how can there be such a thing as tragedy? How can there be untimely death?

Imagine this situation. You’re in your childhood years. You’re going away on a trip for school. It’s an overnight trip, the first one you’ve gone on. Your twin brother is in the same class as you. Your parents aren’t too thrilled about the prospect of having both of you gone for a few days, but they see how excited you both are. Therefore they sign the permission slip required by the school.

Accompanying that slip are details of the trip. The piece of paper explains where the class is going, how long they will be gone, where the children will sleep, and how they will eat. The instructions are quite clear: the parents must supply money for the children. The meals are not automatically included. The parents get a ballpark figure of how much the food should cost. They are to give the money to the children.

[Skeeball]So you and your brother get your money and embark for the trip. Everything is fine on the first day. You have a lot of fun. On the second day, you run into a little trouble. On one of the stops the children go into an arcade. Your twin brother, swept away in a game of skeeball, decides to use his meal money for more opportunities to play. You beg and plead with him to act responsibly. “That money is for food. How will you eat?” Your brother doesn’t pay attention to you. He assures you that he’ll figure out a way.

Not surprisingly, when it comes time to go out to eat for dinner later that night, your brother doesn’t have enough money. You decide to pay for his dinner. You’ll fast, you decide. The teacher finds out about this and doesn’t like it. “We’ll have to speak with your parents when we get back.” When the bus returns to the school the next day, you’re embarrassed that you have to stay behind; all the other kids get to go home. The teacher then explains what happened. They tell your parents of how your brother spent his money at the arcade and thus didn’t have anything left for food. When you get home, you both get into trouble. You get yelled at for not watching over your brother carefully enough, though you tried everything.

In this hypothetical situation, are the parents to blame? What if your brother didn’t get to eat? Is it the fault of the parents for not giving enough protection? This example sort of helps us understand how God does protect all living entities. Through something not directly connected to Him He provides enough for people to survive on. The sun is not partial. Its heat and light are there for everyone to use. No one can say that the sun is mean to them, that the sun doesn’t like them.

The elements of nature are there in plenty of supply. And this relates only to eating. Through the system of dharma passed on from the beginning of creation, there is ample information available to properly guide human behavior also. To one who chooses to ignore such information, how can any blame be placed on God?

Thus we see that indirectly, through His material nature, Shri Rama protects all living entities. Through devotional service, one comes under His direct protection. Such a person belongs to the category of Rama’s people. In this instance Hanuman specifically refers to the citizens of Ayodhya, but in fact anyone who takes shelter of Rama gets His protection, which is flawless.

[Lord Rama]The wise souls choose in His favor by always chanting His holy names, like those found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They understand that dualities are part of the material condition, that with a temporary body must come varieties of enjoyment and misery. They know that the Supreme Lord is the ultimate well-wishing friend of every living entity and that one who knows this attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.

In Closing:

Supreme Lord protector of all,

But how then tragedies befall?


If given to you money for food,

But then on games quickly blew.


Then on others blame to project,

Should not you responsibility accept?


Concept with God the same,

In Ayodhya known by Rama the name.


Nature’s bounty protection indirect,

Devotees support from Rama directly get.