Saturday, October 18, 2014

Talking About A Staged Event

[Krishna with Trinavarta]“The Trinavarta demon who took baby Krishna on his shoulder went high in the sky, but the baby assumed such a weight that suddenly he could not go any further, and he had to stop his whirlwind activities. Baby Krishna made Himself heavy and began to weigh down the demon.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 7)

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Girish: I was reading some more of that Krishna book yesterday.

Shankar: Yeah? How do you like it?

Girish: It’s very good. It’s a little different from the Bhagavad-gita.

Shankar: I know.

Girish: The seeker in me seemed to get more out of the Gita. But there’s still time.

Shankar: What did you get out of it?

Girish: That I am not the body.

Shankar: Good.  That is pretty important.

Girish: And God is not impersonal. He is a person.

Shankar: He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Hence the subtitle to the current book you’re reading.

[Krishna book cover]Girish: Maya is illusion. I should see past it. I should not follow activities in maya. That will only keep me in further darkness. I should know that I am Brahman, or spirit. Aham brahmasmi. I must understand that this body will change. I should know that this body continuously changes, actually, from boyhood to youth to old age.

Shankar: And then what happens at death?

Girish: I get another body. It’s like putting on clothes and then taking them off. I should not lament for the living. The same for the dead. Spirit will always remain.

Shankar: And who will you think of at the time of death?

Girish: Krishna! Thinking of God will work too. I guess that’s why the Krishna book is important. It explains who God is.

Shankar: Yeah, that’s very good to know.

Girish: I do have a question, though. This comes from the devil’s advocate in me.

Shankar: No problem. What do you got?

[Lord Krishna]Girish: I’ve noticed a pattern to the chapters thus far. Krishna is living in Vrindavana as a small child, delighting everyone. There is the lead bad guy in the neighboring town of Mathura. In each chapter he sends over a bad guy to kill Krishna. The Lord then does something amazing to survive the attack and get rid of the demon.

Shankar: Yeah, Kamsa sent a lot of those bad guys. Putana, Trinavarta, Aghasura, to name a few.

Girish: Right. And the people were so relieved each time to see Krishna escape. They couldn’t believe He survived. The story part of it is nice. I get that. Yet I’m wondering why anyone would have an interest in it afterwards.

Shankar: What do you mean?

Girish: Well, God is all-knowing, right?

Shankar: He has to be.

Girish: Exactly. And He’s all-powerful too, no?

Shankar: Of course.

Girish: That being established, why would anyone worry if a witch named Putana is coming to Vrindavana to administer poison to Krishna? Why is there interest over a torrential flood devastating the land?

Shankar: I’m not sure I follow.

Girish: Anyone with a brain can guess the outcome. It’s all fixed. I mean, it has to be. Krishna has to know that these people are coming. He has to know how to deal with them also.

Shankar: Okay. Yeah, that’s true. I see where you’re going with this. Are you saying that since it involves God, the incidents aren’t so important to remember?

Girish: Yeah. What is anyone getting out of these stories? We all know what’s going to happen. I mean, I like hearing about them; don’t get me wrong. It’s really great, in fact. I’m just thinking about what the critics might say.

[Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill]Shankar: You have friends who watch television shows?

Girish: Yes.

Shankar: And movies?

Girish: Oh boy, some of my friends watch movies ALL the time. They download them onto a server they have at home and then they binge-watch.

Shankar: So these friends of yours talk about these shows and movies?

Girish: Yes. Too much in fact.

Shankar: What were to happen if the next time they brought up one of these movies you responded with skepticism? “Hey, that’s all fake. Why are you telling me about it?”

Girish: Oh, that’s a good one. I like it.

Shankar: Well, it is fake. It’s acknowledged to be so. The stories take birth in the mind of a writer or many writers. Yet no one questions the interest shown in these fictional works.

Girish: And Krishna’s stories are not fictional. They actually occurred.

Shankar: Yes. Even if you don’t believe in them, there is no reason not to take an interest. If you’re already giving so much attention to the fictional, why should you have a problem with stories about Krishna’s life? You must think it’s real; otherwise there wouldn’t be an objection.

Girish: That’s a good point.

Shankar: And like the maya you brought up previously, our entire existence here can be thought of as unreal. The nonfictional is that which takes place in our lives, but everything changes. I’m worried who will win the championship this year, but next year’s champion will erase this year’s memory. Thus the event is sort of unreal; its significance is temporary.

Girish: Krishna’s stories carry through time. They happened five thousand years ago and we’re still talking about them to this day.

[Krishna pastimes]Shankar: Exactly. From hearing these stories you get some appreciation for Him. That appreciation lasts. This makes the incident with the Putana witch very important. The killing of the whirlwind demon is worth remembering. Even Krishna’s speaking the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra is a kind of pastime. It is a story to study and remember. The outcome is known for sure, as whoever has Krishna on their side will always succeed. The stories of His life and pastimes bring Him close to the consciousness, and that consciousness of Him is the only one that can last forever, transcending time.

In Closing:

Putana, Trinavarta, and others come,

But demons leaving alive none.


Though in body of boy small,

Krishna defeating enemies tall.


To the heart these stories endearing,

Though outcome guessed while hearing.


Fictional stories belonging to a temporary land,

But Krishna lila time’s test to stand.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Trying To Understand His Potencies

[Shri Hanuman]“I had an inauspicious dream today; seeing a monkey as such is prohibited according to shastra. Let there be all good unto Rama with Lakshmana, and also to the father of mine, King Janaka.” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 32.9)

svapno mayā ayam vikṛto adya dṛṣṭaḥ śākhā mṛgaḥ śāstra gaṇaiḥ niṣiddhaḥ |
svasti astu rāmāya salakṣmaṇāya tathā pituḥ me janakasya rājñaḥ ||

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In the chapters previous to this, the messenger Hanuman had the task of identifying someone whom he had never met previously. He went off the signs previously given to him. He had the words of Rama, this missing person’s husband. Rama is the original spiritual master, the adi-guru. His teachings are always flawless. The lone qualification for acting flawlessly is to hear from Rama or one of His representatives in the proper mood. The mood of humility coupled with genuine inquisitiveness yields the auspicious result which Hanuman obtained.

Hanuman also had the memory of ornaments which previously fell to the ground. Like trying to identify someone by having half of their scarf or one of their shoes, Hanuman knew that this missing person likely had the complementary ornaments with her. Most importantly, Hanuman knew the mentality of the person he was sent to find. He knew that she would be in distress, for she had been taken away from the side of her husband by force. Hanuman saw how great the qualities of that husband were, so he understood the wife would be feeling the most pain in separation.

In this verse from the Ramayana, the roles are switched. Hanuman has correctly identified the missing person. She is Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka. She is presently in the Ashoka grove in Lanka, a place which was not easy to access. Hanuman has special talents, so he found his way into that secret area without anyone noticing him. He saw many women in Lanka, but it was not until he went to the Ashoka grove that he concluded for certain that he had found Sita.

[Sita Devi]Upon finding her he decided to introduce himself by first speaking of Rama. This would hopefully soften the initial blow of shock. Here Sita is now trying to identify Hanuman. It should be noted that Hanuman previously made an erroneous judgment when seeing the wife of Ravana, the evil king of Lanka who had taken Sita away from Rama. It was due to Hanuman’s excitement to please Rama that he first thought that Mandodari might be Sita.

In the same vein, due to the circumstances Sita initially couldn’t identify Hanuman properly. Here she remarks how it is considered inauspicious to see a monkey in a dream. The judgment is delivered by shastra, the ultimate guiding authority. Shastra is nothing more than the law codes governing human behavior. It descends from Rama Himself in His original form of Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ
proktavān aham avyayam
vivasvān manave prāha
manur ikṣvākave 'bravīt

“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)

[Depicting disciplic succession, Bhagavad-gita As It Is]Sita wasn’t dreaming in fact, but she thought she might have been. After all, who is used to seeing monkeys, especially in an area that otherwise doesn’t have them? Thinking that maybe inauspiciousness was coming her way, she asked that there be all good fortune to Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana. She also asked the same for her father, King Janaka. Notably absent is Sita herself; she did not ask for her own good fortune. This is her mood; she is entirely unselfish. Very soon she would kindly pray for the same good fortune to come to the monkey that startled her, and based on the widespread worship of that monkey who is so dear to Rama, we see that her request was granted.

If Sita is good and seeing a monkey in a dream is bad, why did this situation happen? How could Sita make the mistake of thinking that Hanuman was an ordinary monkey? Why couldn’t she identify Him properly in the beginning?

The same questions can be asked about the nefarious behavior of characters like Ravana, Kamsa and so many others who acted as enemy to the Supreme Lord during His various descents to this earth. The explanation is that the strong conflict allows for the glories of the Supreme Lord to shine more brightly. Not that He requires this light to be opened. Not that He needs more fame and honor. The living entities are shrouded in ignorance borne of contact with the material nature. This makes it very difficult to believe in God’s existence, let alone understand Him.

[Hanuman worshiping]The opposition provided by Ravana allows us to know that God can defeat the most powerful of enemies. The heroism of Hanuman shows that the devotees who are merged in the eternal occupation of devotional service can surmount any obstacle to please their beloved Lord. The difficulties faced by Sita in Lanka increase the glories of Hanuman. The fact that he was a monkey whose association is generally considered inauspicious also proves that devotion is never tied to a specific form or circumstance. No one is ever restricted from devotional service based on country of origin, language of preference, or family heritage. Hanuman is in a monkey form, and his amazing deeds warm the hearts of Sita and Rama.

In Closing:

When a monkey strangely to see,

Sita asked for all good there to be,

To Rama, Lakshmana and father,

Selfless, not her own welfare to bother.


By monkey to Lanka for Rama going,

The extent of God’s glories to everyone showing.


Hanuman so great in monkey form despite,

God for all to know, of circumstances in spite.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How To Bring Rama’s Messenger

[Sita Devi]“Lamenting greatly, deceived by fear, piteously saying ‘O Rama, O Rama’ and ‘O Lakshmana,’ while aggrieved by lamentation that noble lady cried in diverse ways in a low voice.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 32.5)

vilalāpa bhṛśaṃ sītā karuṇam bhayamohitā ||
rāmarāmeti duḥkhārtā lakṣmaṇeti ca bhāminī |
ruroda bahudhā sītā mandam mandasvarā satī ||

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By any fair assessment, Shri Hanuman is pretty awesome. He does anything for his friends. Not that he’ll only lend you some money and then hope you know what to do with it. Not that he’ll just drop everything to be by your side in a time of crisis. He will actually risk his life, heading into danger. He doesn’t seek the spotlight, but he doesn’t shy away from it either. Through the encouragement of those who know his greatness, he goes to where no other person has gone before.

[Shri Hanuman]He is a kind and compassionate soul as well. He’s fearless, so the bad guys don’t scare him. He’s heroic, so you can rely on him when you’re in trouble. He’s reliable, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not he’ll help you. He’s humble, so no need to be concerned with whether he’s only boasting about his abilities. It’s very easy to say that you can do something difficult, that you would come through in a tough situation, but it’s a different thing to actually deliver.

Hanuman does the most amazing things and he is such a wonderful person. This combination makes his association very desirable. But how to get that association? Are we to simply call his name? Are we to summon him to our side and expect him to be there? Sita Devi’s behavior subtly reveals the answer, the way to get Hanuman to come in all his glory. She is an authority figure on so many things, and so it’s not surprising that she would teach us how to get the association of someone so wonderful.

In reviewing Hanuman’s qualities, the shrewd person will notice that simply calling for him will not do the trick. He is there for his friends. This means that if he’s working for someone who needs help, why will he come to us directly? He is a divine figure of the Vedic tradition, which means that he has special powers. Worship of him is authorized, which means that it’s not something concocted out of sentiment. There are specific benefits to worshiping him, with the topmost being devotion to God.

[Shri Hanuman]As that very devotion exists in Hanuman, why would he not want to share it with others? If a person of such tremendous qualities considers devotion to God to be the most important thing in life, why would he not want others to have it also? Why would he value material opulence, the removal of distress, esoteric knowledge, or mystic perfections instead? Why would he want his worshipers to have temporary comforts when he knows full well that devotion lasts beyond the current lifetime?

In this scene from the Ramayana Sita Devi is very distressed. The verse says that she is deceived by fear, and so she doesn’t feel comfort upon first seeing Hanuman. This is only natural, as who would feel safe suddenly seeing a monkey in an odd place while already in distress? In a fearful condition, Sita piteously cried out for Rama and Lakshmana. Rama is her husband and Lakshmana is Rama’s younger brother. By protecting herself with these two names, the vision of Hanuman in front of her suddenly changed. From a stranger in the Ashoka grove he turned into the well-wishing friend bearing good news of her husband.

And so others can call Hanuman to the scene in the same way. Simply say the names of Rama and Lakshmana. Say them in full dependence, when you have nothing else to hold on to. Say them when this material world has caused you so much fear that you don’t know what to do. Upon saying these names, which are so dear to Hanuman, that great servant of the Supreme Lord rushes to the scene. He is attracted most by devotion to Rama, and so he goes wherever that devotion flourishes.

[Rama Darbar]Sita loves Rama more than any person could, so Hanuman comes to her rescue when needed. Rama is God, an incarnation of the origin of the universe. His name is the great purifier. It brings His presence as well. And the family gets completed with the name of Sita and the name of Lakshmana. As those are the people dearest to Hanuman, that wonderful servant arrives at the scene as well. This makes for the greatest protection, and so the wise person continues to chant their names and bask in their association.

Glorious is he who knows the secret to bringing Hanuman to the scene. More glorious is he who maintains that devotion to the Supreme Lord by always chanting the holy names and inviting all Vaishnavas to come and enjoy in their exercise of devotion: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

To Hanuman in character no match,

How the devotee his attention to catch?


Since all opulences to own,

Worship of him we’re shown.


But devotion real object of his life,

Will do anything for Rama and His wife.


By calling Rama and Lakshmana by name,

His presence brought by devotion the same.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The One Who Breaks All The Rules

[Shri Hanuman]“Maithili, in great surprise, thought as follows: ‘Alas, this person with the form of a monkey is fearful, difficult to approach, and difficult to be looked at.’ Knowing this, she was again bewildered.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 32.3)

maithilī cintayāmāsa svapno ayam iti bhāminī |
aho bhīmamidaṃ rūpaṃ vānarasya durāsadam ||
durnirīkṣamiti jñātvā punareva mumoha sā |

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Planetary systems emerging through breathing, serpent heads holding up all the universes, an ocean of milk, and even a monkey carrying unimaginable auspiciousness - all such things are possible through the work of the Divine. We think these are contradictions, something out of mythology, but in fact so many things happen every day that to an outsider would be considered a miracle. Taking them for granted, we mistakenly think that the rules of nature are stringent to the point that its creator must abide by them as well. But He does not have to, and neither do His dearmost servants like Shri Hanuman.

[trees]Within a tiny seed is a giant banyan tree. This seems ridiculous, but make a test out of it. Plant the seed in the ground, give it careful attention, and see what happens after a while. The same can be done with any kind of plant. The female human being is no larger than the size of an American football when emerging from the womb, but that same person can one day give birth themselves. Such are the workings of nature; miracles are all around us.

We consider these to be miracles, but they are merely the products of the material nature acting in conjunction with the spiritual energy. In Sanskrit the undeveloped full collection of matter is known as pradhana. When the glance of the Supreme Spirit reaches this pradhana, we get the material creation and everything within it. The atoms move, the planets come into being, rivers start flowing, clouds start moving, and yes, life forms start to come and go. Without the glance of spirit, which provides an injection of sorts, none of this would be possible.

sarva-yoniṣu kaunteya
mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir
ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā

“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.4)

We were not watching when this glance first took place, so we have difficulty believing in it. Even if we did see it and then report on it to others, who would believe us? In fact, the original event is not so significant, as time travels infinitely both forwards and backwards. There is a beginning to the beginning. Correspondingly, there is an end to the end. Try to reach the end of space and you’ll fail. The human mind cannot grasp infinity; so there is no point in trying.

[Lifting Govardhana Hill]As the Supreme Spirit bypasses the laws of time and space, He can also get past any rule of the material nature. From our experiences, we know that a pinky finger cannot hold up a mountain. An infant cannot thwart the attacks of a large being who operates with a more advanced intelligence. We also know that a monkey doesn’t come bearing news of our beloved, after braving the obstacles of nature and penetrating the defense of beings equipped with every weapon of the black arts.

Yet all of these things can and do happen. Here Sita Devi pays a nice compliment to Shri Hanuman. By extension, the praise makes its way towards Rama as well. He is Sita’s husband and Hanuman is acting for Him for looking for Sita. Sita, who is also known as Maithili [the daughter of the king of Mithila], here spots Hanuman for the first time in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. From her words we see that she identifies Hanuman by his outward form, which is that of a monkey.

That form is bhima, or fearful. Indeed, Hanuman must instill fear from time to time. He faces bad guys who try to get in the way of his service to Rama. Rama is the Supreme Lord in an avatara, so whatever He asks is always in line with dharma. Someone who gets in the way of what Rama asks is in adharma, or acting unrighteously. Sometimes an awe-inspiring form is necessary to carry out righteousness.

Sita also says that Hanuman’s form is difficult to approach and difficult to look at. What would you do if you suddenly spotted a monkey on a tree branch above? Would you not be startled? Would you think it was a good sign? The monkey is known for stealing. It is known for looking for food and taking it from wherever it can get it. The monkey then runs away, feeling no remorse. The monkey has no shame.

Despite this initial impression of Hanuman, we know that he was indeed a well-wishing friend to Sita. To her, he was very approachable. His form was beautiful, kind, and inviting. It is possible for a monkey to be all these things. Indeed, any living entity can bear the same properties, regardless of the body type they inherited at the time of birth.

[Shri Hanuman]Rama could have sent a servant of a more conventional appearance to look for Sita. He could have sent someone who wouldn’t startle her upon first glance. But God can break the rules whenever He wants. Indeed, He purposefully does so from time to time to show that He is not subordinate to anyone or anything. His servants can also bewilder the person whose vision is limited through sole reliance on the laws of nature.

How can a monkey serve Rama? How can he be auspicious? In the worst setting, in a terrible place, Hanuman came to offer a shining light of hope. It is indeed amazing that a monkey came to give Sita the good news about her husband, that He was coming to rescue her. Hanuman is so amazing that the Vedas themselves can’t fully describe His glories. As Rama Himself continues to be praised to this day, through Hanuman the mercy of the Lord extends even further. The more one thinks they know God, the more they have yet to learn through the example of Hanuman, who can break all the rules through the power invested in him by Rama.

In Closing:

Though at first a tiny seed to see,

Through time to become banyan tree.


Same through creation amazing,

At pradhana Supreme Lord gazing.


When Hanuman to Sita came near,

Monkey form to her instilling fear.


Service to God possible in form or shape any,

Hanuman of virtues to count too many.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Friendly Eyes

[Shri Hanuman]“She saw there a monkey who was humble and beaming like a collection of blossomed Ashoka flowers, who spoke sweet words and had eyes that resembled molten gold.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 32.2)

sā dadarśa kapim tatra praśritam priya vādinam |
pullāśokotkarābhāsam taptacāmikarekṣaṇam ||

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It’s not the easiest thing to live in this world as a beautiful woman. Surely it is nice to be appreciated for your good looks. It is comforting to know that your husband finds you attractive, that your vision puts a smile on his face. At the same time, there is the danger that accompanies beauty in a person who is generally weaker than another group. Purusha in Sanskrit means “enjoyer” and prakriti means “the enjoyed.” For analytical purposes, these two terms apply to the male and the female, and so when the enjoyed and the enjoyer are matched inappropriately, the enjoyed runs into problems.

Take the most beautiful woman in the world and put her in a place where one of the most powerful men in the world looks at her sinfully and you create a very dangerous situation. The woman was Sita Devi, the beloved daughter of King Janaka. The man was Ravana, the dreaded king of Lanka. Though beauty is subjective and thus difficult to measure quantitatively, we know that Sita’s beauty was very high based on the lusty actions of Ravana. Lust can carry away the thinking of even the most rational person. Sometimes it seems that lust controls the individual instead of the other way around.

arjuna uvāca
atha kena prayukto 'yaṁ
pāpaṁ carati pūruṣaḥ
anicchann api vārṣṇeya
balād iva niyojitaḥ

“Arjuna said: O descendant of Vrishni, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?” (Bhagavad-gita, 3.36)

[Sita and Rama]Sita was a married woman; happily at that. The marriage was legitimate; it took place according to the respected tradition of the Vedas. Any prince in the world could have married her; they had the opportunity. Yet only one met the lone qualification, the ability to lift a very heavy bow in an assembly hosted by the king of Mithila.

Though it was sinful to go after Sita, Ravana’s eyes were not pure. They were driven by lust. So he forcibly took her away years later and brought her back to his home of Lanka, which was an island situated far away from any mainland. With seemingly no hope for return to her family, Ravana figured that Sita would eventually give in to his advances. She did not. He thought that maybe by seeing the opulence of his kingdom, Sita would be impressed. She was not. He hoped that Sita would abandon her vow to love Rama through the passage of time. She would never.

So you had the lusty eyes of Ravana staring at Sita. Compounding the problem were the jealous eyes of the other females in Lanka. They did not like that Ravana was so hung up on another woman. They did not understand why he had not just killed her already, for they would never act so defiantly in front of someone they respected so much. There were also the terrorizing eyes of the female ogres ordered to harass Sita. She was kept in a grove of Ashoka trees. This setting is normally pleasant, but not when you have people around you day and night who threaten to kill you and eat you up.

To this situation of sinful eyes staring at her constantly came the soothing eyes of Shri Hanuman. Sita saw these when she looked up at a particular branch on an Ashoka tree. Sound first caught her attention. That sound described the glories of her husband Shri Rama. This sound was unique to this area; no one else dared speak well of her dear husband, who is the Supreme Lord in a special incarnation form. Rama is non-different from God. If you have Rama in your life, you have God. If you have the Lord, then you have someone to whom you can offer endless service. If you have endless service, you have no need to despair; you don’t lack direction in life.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman’s journey to Lanka is one instance of that service. He had Rama in his life through a meeting that took place in Kishkindha. From only a brief period of interaction, Hanuman knew Rama so well that he was able to identify Rama’s wife though having never met her. Upon seeing her he took the risky action of speaking out loud. Those words had to be perfect; otherwise the mission of finding her would be ruined.

Sita did not know from whom or where the message came. When she looked up, she saw someone whose eyes were like molten gold. These eyes were pleasing. They did not intend any harm. They did not look at her lustily. They did not want to scare her. Just the opposite in fact; these eyes came to give her renewed hope.

When we see Hanuman depicted in images today, we see the same soothing eyes. The love he feels for Sita and Rama shines forth in every aspect of his being. His words and actions documented in the Ramayana bring the same comfort. In the material world lust, anger, envy and greed are dominating factors even amongst our friends and well-wishers. Lacking God consciousness, what is the individual left to do? They can never become God, so they are forced to be envious of others who they deem to be doing better than them materially.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman’s eyes are different. He is a great well-wisher; not only for Sita and Rama but also for anyone who desires to find the true mission to life. He envies not; instead he hopes that others will surpass him in devotion. That is not possible, but through Hanuman’s grace anything can happen.

In Closing:

After glories of her husband told,

Sita seeing eyes of molten gold.


Odd since Lanka mired only in lust,

All sinful, not one she could trust.


A friend in Hanuman, of eyes soothing,

There for Sita’s grief to be removing.


For all devoted souls Hanuman wishing well,

Happily Sita and Rama in his heart dwell.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Humble and Beaming

[Shri Hanuman]“She saw there a monkey who was humble and beaming like a collection of blossomed Ashoka flowers, who spoke sweet words and had eyes that resembled molten gold.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 32.2)

sā dadarśa kapim tatra praśritam priya vādinam |
pullāśokotkarābhāsam taptacāmikarekṣaṇam ||

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Is it possible to be humble and prominent at the same time? Isn’t that like asking if someone can be tall and short simultaneously? Humility means to keep yourself in a low position, at least mentally. If you are humble you are not looking to outshine anyone else. In the presence of elders and other personalities commanding respect, the humble person does not speak much. Even if they hear things that are incorrect from time to time, in deference to etiquette they remain silent. The more boastful person makes their presence known. They are not shy. Instead of shunning the spotlight, they relish it. From this verse from the Ramayana, we see that it is possible to be both humble and beaming at the same time. Not surprisingly this description suits Shri Hanuman perfectly.

Do you want to be liked? Do you want to be respected? It’s not that hard actually. Just don’t say anything. If you’re at a family get together and everyone is in a room arguing about the latest buzz on the news, just keep quiet. If others ask your opinion, say that you are thinking the matter over. Tell them that you prefer to listen instead. This will get you so much respect, as evidenced by the undecided voters in each election cycle. They are the coveted group, as they are deemed to be above the partisan rancor. They are level-headed; they don’t get swept up by emotion.

[pizza]If you voice opinions loudly, you won’t be as popular. Go on television and say that you like pizza. You think that this statement is harmless, but pretty soon you’ll start getting hate mail about how your support of pizza is contributing to the health epidemic in the country. Heart disease and obesity are the results of your public support. If you had stayed quiet you would have been more popular.

But without saying something, how will knowledge properly transfer? If I know that taking drugs is bad, should I not tell my children? If I see my friend headed down the dangerous path of gambling, should I remain silent? My silence in these cases is a tantamount endorsement. In order to stay popular, I kept my mouth shut, but if everyone did that then no one would ever learn anything.

This verse from the Ramayana says that one person in particular is both humble and prominent. He is humble because he does not think so much of himself. This isn’t low self-esteem. He is knowledgeable of the soul and its place in the vast material nature. Though spirit is superior to dull matter, in the larger scheme the nature which controls that matter is much more powerful than the individual spirit. If this weren’t the case, we would never be forced to sleep. We would never get injured from playing sports. We would never get nervous before delivering a speech. More importantly, we would never die if we didn’t want to.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman’s knowledge extends beyond the difference between matter and spirit. He knows that there is a supreme spirit, an individual who guides everything, either indirectly or directly. The material nature is His work of the indirect kind, and in His personal form of Rama He carries a direct influence. That influence led Hanuman to the city of Lanka to look for Rama’s wife Sita. Hanuman had a lot to be proud over, personal successes of the likes never before seen and never since matched. Yet he remained humble because he knew that Rama was the source of his strength. In his mind, Hanuman thought that he could have done a lot more.

When Sita saw Hanuman he was beaming like a collection of fully blossomed Ashoka flowers. This means that the nature took care of shining the spotlight on Hanuman. He did not beat his chest. He did not insist that Sita look at him with awe and reverence. He did not disturb others intentionally so that they would look at him. And yet he beamed anyway. Sita was in a garden of Ashoka trees at the time, and so in his desire to not startle her and remain undiscovered by the fiends living there, Hanuman hid himself in this tree.

He spoke sweet words. This was his way of getting Sita’s attention. When she looked at him, she saw that he was beaming. The flowers from the Ashoka tree created this effect. Hanuman did not have to try for prominence. His words were sweet because they were about Rama, Sita’s husband. Though they were spoken only in that isolated circumstance, those words have carried forward thousands of years into the future. The flowers in that tree made Hanuman beam to the eyes of Sita, and the documented history that is the Ramayana has carried the light of Hanuman to the present day.

[Shri Hanuman]This shows that the only way to be humble and prominent at the same time is to follow devotional service, bhakti-yoga. The person who loves God and serves Him with thoughts, words and deeds is automatically humble. This is because through their service, given to them by the authorized representative of the same Rama, they understand their true position. In their selfless service they please the Lord so much that there is automatic prominence associated with them. They shine forth just like Hanuman, who is so dear to Sita and Rama.

In Closing:

A contradiction to seem,

To be humble and with prominence beam.


In humility to consider oneself low,

The boastful of their qualities to show.


Hanuman in Ramayana showing combination,

Upon reaching Ashoka grove destination.


Crossing ocean and then Rama’s wife found,

Thus Hanuman having much to be proud.


Still humble, flowers providing shine,

Ramayana carrying his glory to present time.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Likely Never To See Again

[Shri Hanuman]“Looking sideways, up, down and even below, she then saw that Hanuman of inconceivable intelligence, minister to the lord of monkeys, and the son of the wind-god, looking like the rising sun.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.19)

sā tiryag ūrdhvam ca tathā api adhastān |
nirīkṣamāṇā tam acintya buddhim |
dadarśa pinga adhipateḥ amātyam |
vāta ātmajam sūryam iva udayastham ||

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In our youth, one way to show our displeasure at someone is to simply not speak to them.

“That’s it. I’m going to give them the silent treatment. What they did was beyond the limit of tolerable acts. It’s like what England did one time to the colonists in America: the Intolerable Acts. I’m not going to speak with them again.”

This choice has a more dramatic effect when we see the recipient on a regular basis. In adulthood the same tactic usually isn’t so effective. You can be giving someone the silent treatment without them ever knowing about it. Indeed, with every person we know, we are destined at one point to never speak with them again. Regardless the situation, whether happy or sad, whether in sight of the person of interest or not, Shri Hanuman and his words remain like the rising sun to again give us hope.

[clock]Think of watching a clock ticking down. Perhaps you’re heating something up in the microwave. You look at the minutes and seconds as they wind down. In that instance the time moves slow, but imagine if you were watching the same countdown for your own life. Indeed, we each have one of these clocks and it starts to tick down as soon as we exit the womb. As Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, one who takes birth must die. Death is the other end to birth, with the lifetime fitting in between.

jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur
dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca
tasmād aparihārye 'rthe
na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi

“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)

As death is guaranteed, the association of everyone we know will eventually be lost forever. The idea of never speaking to someone again is sure to happen. No matter how wonderful they are, how much they’ve done for us, how dear they remain to us, how long we’ve known them, how good things look at the moment - we are bound to lose their association at some point. Either we will leave first or they will enter the next destination for the soul before us.

[Sita Devi]Sita Devi appeared to be in a situation where she would never again see her dear husband. She was separated from Him in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. This was not her choice. She did not want to be there. She only thought of when she would see Him again. Her husband, like her, was incredibly sweet, kind, innocent and always attentive to the concerns of others. They were both sinless, and they were undergoing the terrible ordeal of separation due to the wickedness of someone else.

To this blameless lady came Hanuman, who was like a rising sun with his words of nectar. Hanuman was sent by Rama, Sita’s husband, to look for her. He risked everything, including never again seeing his friends in the forest kingdom of Kishkindha. He moved ahead bravely, and from his words directed to Sita we see that his strong familiarity with Rama’s true nature is what guided him. Hanuman knew that work for Rama never goes in vain. He knew that to please Rama and Sita is to make the most of this life.

Hanuman’s words momentarily brought back the association of a loved one. In their earthly pastimes, like everyone else Sita and Rama would eventually have to separate for good. But we know from the Ramayana and other works of Vedic literature that they remain together forever. Rama is God and Sita His eternal consort.

[Hanuman's heart]This means that Hanuman can be like the rising sun to anyone. Doing the exact same thing, voicing accurate, beautiful and well-timed words about Rama and His family acts like the rising sun to the living entity otherwise in darkness. Today, tomorrow, or sometime in the future all the attachments we have formed will vanish. This makes our journey through life quite sad, and the only savior is the rising sun of words of the Supreme Lord. He is our friend for this life and beyond. He stays with us as the Supersoul within the heart. He does this whether we ask Him to or not.

In hearing the words that describe Him, we take advantage of that association. That person whom we previously thought to not exist turns out to be our best friend through life. He remains the one to remember at the key moment of death, guaranteeing His association in the next life. And it all happens from words that bring Him to life, words that Hanuman so kindly offered to Sita.

In Closing;

Association we’d like to keep forever,

But destined to see again never.


With Supreme Lord it is not so,

Through sound towards Him we go.


His message to Sita Devi brought,

By Hanuman, after intelligent thought.


With that sound company then to keep,

Fruit of the human existence to reap.