“Tulsi says that when one’s devotion in attachment to the Lord, the husband of Sita, diminishes, their happiness, luck and fortune run away.” (Dohavali, 70)
sāhiba sītānātha seāṁ jaba ghaṭihaiṁ anurāga |
tulasī tabahīṁ bhālateṁ bhabhari bhāgihaiṁ bhāga ||70||
Feel like you’ve been doing the right thing your whole life with nothing to show for it? Does it seem like the cheaters do actually win in the end? Have you literally experienced the truth of the expression, “No good deed goes unpunished”? Have you heard people say that God is light? Are you now questioning that? What has the light gotten you, you wonder. We can take solace from the words of Goswami Tulsidas, who explains that indeed the more one goes away from devotion to God the more misfortune they meet. The truth he puts forth is validated in real life from the example of Vibhishana.
The Vaishnavas, the devotees of the personal God, tell us that true religious life consists of four basic principles. Religion here refers to association with the Absolute Truth. In Sanskrit that truth is known as Brahman, but the name isn’t so important. Each person can at least conceptually understand an undivided spiritual energy that pervades the entire creation. In the worst case, just picture everything that exists. That is Brahman, and only a fool would deny its existence.
Following the four principles distinguishes man from the animals. It shows that man has duties, whereas animals are not compelled to do anything. They simply follow their instincts. Principles require discipline; restricting yourself in some way. Following the four principles helps to create four qualities that are considered beneficial. These qualities are honesty, cleanliness, austerity, and compassion.
A long time ago there was a golden city called Lanka. The area still exists today, but the conditions are vastly different. During this time, the leader was a very powerful man named Ravana. He belonged to a specific race of creatures known as Rakshasas. They were humanlike, except for one notable distinction. They were so against the four regulative principles that they would go so low as to eat human beings.
If they didn’t follow the four principles, how were the Rakshasas humanlike? They still had intelligence. Their actions were by choice. They knew of the religious principles; they just strongly decided against following them. Lanka could be called a sinner’s paradise. Whatever goes on in the sin city of today is nothing compared to how Ravana and his people enjoyed. Gambling was commonplace for kings of that time, and in Lanka there was so much meat and wine available. Ravana had many wives, so he was constantly enjoying sex.
Even amidst the debauchery there could be found a pious soul. Ironically, he was one of Ravana’s younger brothers. Named Vibhishana, this Rakshasa was a devoted soul. Making a surface judgment, it looks like Vibhishana was punished for his disposition towards piety. Ravana had everything. He literally lived in a city of gold. Vibhishana had to tolerate all that was going on around him.
One time Ravana stole the beautiful wife of another man. He didn’t know that this was the goddess of fortune in person. Named Sita, she was married to Shri Rama, who was from Ayodhya. The goddess of fortune has eyes only for God the person. From this we know that Rama was the Supreme Lord appearing on earth to give His divine darshana. Though he had so much fortune already in Lanka, Ravana still attempted to take fortune personified in Sita.
Vibhishana could not tolerate this, so he gave up the association of Ravana. He went to the camp of Rama, who was making His way towards Lanka to rescue Sita. Through following godly principles, Vibhishana became homeless and poor. How was being good benefitting him, then? He followed the light of transcendence and seemingly nothing good was coming of it.
In this world the flowers on the trees do not blossom right away. But this delay in time doesn’t mean that the flowers won’t arrive. In the same way, the departure of good fortune, luck and happiness for Lanka was imminent. The first sign was Hanuman setting fire to the city. He was Rama’s messenger, and, not surprisingly, he succeeded in finding Sita. After he found her and spoke to her, he set Lanka ablaze with his tail that was initially put on fire by Ravana. While destroying the city, Hanuman intentionally skipped over Vibhishana’s palace.
By choosing the true light, Vibhishana got the favor of the husband of the goddess of fortune. Devotion itself is the greatest fortune. Money is not required. Happiness is service; this is the soul’s dharma. The height of service is bhakti, or love for God, and so the height of happiness accompanies that eternal engagement.
For those who do not yet realize this, their doubts can be removed by looking at what happened after Vibhishana joined forces with Rama. After Ravana and the Rakshasas were defeated, Vibhishana became the new king. Therefore even materially speaking he didn’t lose anything. In the Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Lord promises to bring to the devotee what they lack and preserve what they have. The blessings of Sita Devi are one way that He upholds that promise. She provides benedictions to be used to please her husband, which was the life’s mission of the new king of Lanka, Vibhishana.
From Rama’s powerful arrows to release,
Vibhishana on life getting a new lease.
The king of Lanka then became,
Succeeding brother of Ravana the name.
Though at first losing everything seeming,
Through bhakti his fortunes again beaming.
Like tree’s flowers coming at proper time,
Good from the light of transcendence to find.