Saturday, January 17, 2015

Not Minding A Changing Mind

[Rama's lotus feet]“That glorious Rama right away accepted those words of His father to be supremely dear; considering them more important than the installation as king. He accepted them giving His word.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.24)

sa pituḥ vacanam śrīmān abhiṣekāt param priyam ||
manasā pūrvam āsādya vācā pratigṛhītavān |

Download this episode (right click and save)

When discussing bhakti-yoga, the word “devotee” is used quite often. In fact, you might hear this word more than any other. “Associate wit the devotees. The devotees are trying to love God in thought, word and deed. Don’t offend other devotees. Always keep the association of devotees.” There are many meanings to this word when discussing the highest occupation for man, devotional service. We can get one of the meanings from the descriptions given by Sita Devi when she spoke to Hanuman in the Ashoka grove in Lanka.

Have you ever changed your mind? Have you ever decided on one thing only to switch later on? Have you ever made a decision with your heart but then afterwards been compelled by outside forces to reverse it? Such is the nature of the world we live in, we can’t always make the best decisions. We can’t predict the future, which means that as circumstances change, so too do our desires.

Goswami Tulsidas, who knows the Supreme Lord very well, says in his Dohavali that Shri Rama favors the desires of His servants more than His own. So the person connected to God is a devotee, and they are described here with the term “sevaka,” which means servant. A bhakta, which is the principally used Sanskrit word for devotee, is someone who serves God in one of the nine different processes of bhakti-yoga. Something as simple as chanting the holy names qualifies as service: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

“Tulsi says that Rama favors the desires of His servant more than His own. How can anyone turn their back on such a sweet master as the husband of Sita?” (Dohavali, 48)

[Lord Rama]As mentioned before, desires are known to change. What does Rama make of this? As the personal side to the Supreme Being, who thus has interactions with others, does He get angry if the bhaktas change their mind? What if their desires change? What if they are compelled to do something else?

Tulsidas already provides the answer, and here Sita Devi confirms it. The above referenced verse from the Ramayana is part of her introductory remarks to Shri Hanuman, who has been sent to Lanka to look for her. Sita knows Rama very well; she lived with Him for many years as His wife. At this moment, she is still His wife, but is separated from Him through no choice of her own.

Sita says that Rama accepted the words of His father Dasharatha to be very dear. The previous desire of the father was to install Rama as the king. This happened in the thirteenth year that Sita lived with Rama in the kingdom of Ayodhya. Dasharatha was the leader of that land, and Rama was His eldest son. Based on tradition, protocol, and assessment of qualities, making Rama the new king was the right decision.

But just as the formal transfer of control was about to happen, Dasharatha’s youngest wife Kaikeyi intervened. She put Dasharatha into a sort of checkmate position. She reminded the king that he had previously promised her any two boons of her choosing. She used this opportunity to cash in on them. She wanted her son Bharata as the new king and Rama to go to the forest.

An easy move would have been to ignore her. But Dasharatha was known to be true to his word. Without truthfulness, he would lose the respect of the people, who required a capable leader. Also, Kaikeyi promised to starve herself to death if Rama became the new king. Thus the king had no choice but to change his mind. Regrettably, he asked Rama for the kingdom back.

What was Rama’s reaction? Though playing the role of a father, Dasharatha is eternally a devotee of God. He is also a living entity travelling through various bodies, which means that he has desires. Therefore it is not surprising that Dasharatha changed his mind, like any other person is known to do. Rama did not mind one bit. He accepted these words of His father to be supremely dear. They were more important to Him than being installed as the new king.

Rama also gave this approval immediately. In this way we get one definition of a devotee. They are someone whose desires are taken to be of utmost importance to the Supreme Lord. The non-devotees do not enjoy the same benefit. Although God is impartial at the start, caring equally for all living entities, those who accept His divine mercy become His friend. The friend of God gets the benefit of having their desires met, which always have some relation to devotional service.

[Sita and Hanuman]Knowing this, why would anyone cast aside devotional service? Why would they accept any other master? Hanuman and Sita do not make this mistake. They each make their decision with complete soundness of mind. They are not poor, either. They don’t need anything. Hanuman possesses all six of the perfections of mystic yoga. Sita is the goddess of fortune. They follow devotional service because they know Rama’s nature, and how He never puts Himself first.

In Closing:

Changing mind, suddenly a new thirst,

Know that to Rama His devotees come first.


Like when Dasharatha transferring power about,

Then suddenly reversed, Rama from kingdom to get out.


Lord taking new words as supremely dear,

His love for devotees thus crystal clear.


To forsake such a Lord don’t make the mistake,

Like Sita and Hanuman bhakti your life’s path make.

Friday, January 16, 2015


[Lord Rama]“Then, in the thirteenth year the king along with his teachers prepared for the ceremony of handing over the kingdom to Rama, the delight of the Ikshvaku dynasty.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.18)

tataḥ trayodaśe varṣe rājyena ikṣvāku nandanam ||
abhiṣecayitum rājā sa upādhyāyaḥ pracakrame |

Download this episode (right click and save)

Of all names, the holy name is the most significant. It is the preferred mechanism for connecting with the Supreme Lord, the original proprietor of everything, the person who is ultimately in charge of the forces that govern. The holy name is powerful because it creates the presence of the person addressed through the use of sound. We can say “water” over and over again, but it doesn’t mean that we’ll get water. We can also call out to our beloved, but sound alone will not bring their presence. Not so with the holy name; hence its significance.

Which name should you choose? What if you don’t really know what God is? Where does He live? What does He look like? The Vedic tradition often depicts Him as blue, but why is that? Why does He sometimes carry around a flute and other times hold a bow in His hand?

[infinity]One of the properties belonging to God is infiniteness. In math we learn about greater than and less than. The number two is greater than one. One is less than two. If you want to find a number that is greater than all numbers, you’ll fail. The word “infinity” is used to describe this situation. That which is infinite is without measure. It is the greatest, but there is no way to quantify it.

The holy name describes God. Since He is infinite, so too the descriptions of Him are without end. This means that there is an endless amount of names. Some are more important than others, as they are better at bringing the complete picture to the mind. Think of it like remembering someone by their clothes versus thinking of them by their character and nature. So many names only vaguely describe God, while others are more specific and highlight His transcendental qualities of importance to the yogis, those who are looking to transcend the dualities of the material nature.

Many of the more significant names have the suffix “nandana” in them. This Sanskrit word means “one who delights.” “Son” is another meaning, but in fact there is no difference, as the son is meant to give delight to the parents. Pick any of the names that include this suffix and you’ll get plenty to think about. You’ll get a host of memories arriving in your mind, waiting to settle in and stay for the long haul.

[Krishna and Yashoda]Likely the most famous of these names is Yashodanandana. With this name, we find out that God gives delight to Yashoda, who is a mother in Vrindavana. God in this form is known as Krishna, since He is all-attractive. Yashoda plays the role of a foster mother, but in fact no one can be the mother or father of Krishna. He is the original person, so when there is a relationship to a mother, it is only to give her delight.

Krishna gives delight to mother Yashoda by being an adorable son. He plays in her courtyard. He drinks the milk that she provides. He eats the butter she churns with her own hands. He plays out in the fields with His friends during the day and then returns home at night to eat the wonderful preparations that Yashoda makes. She loves Him so much, and He is there to accept that love. In every way, Krishna delights Yashoda.

The same Krishna is also known as Yadunandana. In this role He gives delight to the Yadu dynasty of kings. So many pious kings appeared in this line, but Krishna is the one who stands out. He made that dynasty truly famous, delivering the Bhagavad-gita on the battlefield of Kurukshetra to Arjuna, who played the role of His cousin.

From the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we get the name Ikshvakunandana. This has a similar meaning, except it refers to God in His role as Rama, the son of King Dasharatha. The dynasty here is the Ikshvaku, and it descends from the deity that is the sun. The Yadu dynasty is from the moon deity.

“The family in which Krishna appeared is called the Yadu dynasty. This Yadu dynasty belongs to the family descending from Soma, the god in the moon planet. There are two different kshatriya families of the royal order, one descending from the king of the moon planet and the other descending from the king of the sun planet. Whenever the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears, He generally appears in a kshatriya family because He has to establish religious principles or the life of righteousness.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Introduction)

The person speaking here is Sita Devi, the wife of Rama. She is explaining to Shri Hanuman about her previous circumstances. She lived with Rama in Ayodhya for twelve years. In the thirteenth year, it was time for the name Ikshvakunandana to earn its true meaning. Without being a king in that line, how would Rama delight it? Therefore Dasharatha and his teachers, the royal priests, started preparing for the ceremony to hand the throne over to Rama.

[Sita and Rama]Ikshvakunandana’s coronation would have to wait, as He had other things to take care of first. He would delight the dynasty in many ways, such as by defeating the evil king Ravana and rescuing Sita. Hanuman’s brave journey to Lanka and successful search for Sita is an extension of Rama’s might. This means that Hanuman delights that dynasty as well. So many good people and glorious events come to mind from a single name; such is the power of the sound that addresses the Supreme Lord.

In Closing:

Appearing in dynasty of sun so bright,

Rama to Ikshvakus giving delight.


So significant is just one holy name,

Its sound bringing Lord’s presence the same.


Though coronation for Rama set and ready,

Plans changed, through it Lord remained steady.


Delight to come to family line in many ways,

Like rescuing Sita by arrows released in a blaze.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

From Bhoga To Tyaga

[Sita Devi]“I lived there at the place of residence of Raghava for twelve years, enjoying every enjoyable thing for mankind and having all my desires met in abundance.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.17)

samā dvādaśa tatra aham rāghavasya niveśane ||
bhunjānā mānuṣān bhogān sarva kāma samṛddhinī |

Download this episode (right click and save)

Renunciation is hard. Without even bringing up the sannyasa-ashrama, where the individual leaves everything behind, just something as simple as limiting food intake is difficult. Who doesn’t want to lose weight? Who actually thinks that they don’t eat enough? Perhaps the athlete who is in training to vie against competitors of a larger stature, but otherwise in areas where food and drink are in abundance the problem is overeating. Wives of important leaders make it a cause to tackle childhood obesity, where lunch menus are altered for children attending school.

Despite the difficulty with renunciation, we know that it has many benefits. If you take the austerity of studying on your days off from school, you’ll reap the benefit of a better performance on examinations. When crunch time arrives, where assignments are due, you won’t be in as much of a bind. The pressure will be less. Everything started with a little discipline.

[pizza]The issue, of course, is enjoyment. In Sanskrit the two terms are bhoga and tyaga. Enjoyment is easy; no one has to be taught how to seek it. The child growing up wants only bhoga. They don’t know anything about renunciation. If they had it their way, they would eat pizza and ice cream for every meal. They would play video games all day, with television interspersed. They would never attend school, and they would go to sleep late at night and wake up late the next day.

Tyaga is forced upon the children by the good parents.

“You have to do some school work. You have to read a book. No more watching television. No more playing video games. You’ve done enough of that today. Tell your brother the same thing. When I come home from work tomorrow, I want to see both of you studying.”

Children are under the control of the guardians. This means that they will experience tyaga even if they don’t want it. But what if in adulthood you have no one to stop you? Would you enjoy all the time? Of course there is the issue of resources and procuring them. If you wanted to watch television all day, how are you going to pay for it? How are you going to eat if you don’t accept the austerity of working? If you’re living off of someone else’s work, what if those people stop paying? What if they cut you off? Therefore in adulthood it is rarer to see the balance tipped greatly in the favor of bhoga.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we hear of an instance where there was bhoga at a very high level. How high? Imagine getting everything that you desired. Imagine having everything enjoyable there is for mankind right at your fingertips. If you guessed that this would have to be royal life, you are correct.

Sita Devi is describing the situation of her first twelve years of marriage to her husband, Shri Rama. Rama is also known as Ramachandra, since He is moonlike. He is also known as Raghava, since He appeared in the dynasty of King Raghu. Rama is God Himself, so wherever He lives there is never any shortage. Though He may voluntarily accept renunciation, and though He may appear to be living in meager conditions, He is never bereft of anything. The goddess of fortune is always with Him. Sita is that goddess, and so Rama is always in favorable circumstances.

[Sita and Rama]Taking out the divine factor for a moment, we see that in Ayodhya, where Sita and Rama lived, there was everything enjoyable. Every desire was met in abundance. If Sita wanted something to drink, she could get it immediately. She could get a comfortable mattress to rest on and the best food to eat. For a person interested only in bhoga, there was no shortage.

What is interesting is that she provides this description while in the most renounced setting. Hanuman has found her in the Ashoka grove in Lanka, where she has become very thin due to fasting. She has nothing enjoyable around her, though she is in the kingdom governed by Ravana. That evil king has everything enjoyable by his side, but Sita will not accept anything from him. She lives on Rama’s prasadam, or His mercy. She will not accept the mercy of anyone inimical to Rama.

Prior to being taken to Lanka against her will, Sita and Rama lived in the ideal place for renunciation: the forest. She went from supreme bhoga to ultimate tyaga. And she didn’t skip a beat. She was not flustered by the sudden change in circumstances. Indeed, she volunteered to accept them. Rama had to leave home and not return for fourteen years. He asked Sita to stay at home, the place of endless enjoyment. Sita would not listen to Him.

[Sita Devi]This sudden transition from bhoga to tyaga can only take place seamlessly if there is devotion to Rama. Only with the higher taste of devotional service does a person not care whether they live in abundance or scarcity. Real enjoyment is devotion. Real living is offering everything that you do for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord. There is the saying of “surviving on love,” and in bhakti you find the real definition of love. Any person can survive on it since the beneficiary has the goddess of fortune with Him. She too lives on that love, which means that though she is a beautiful princess she can show more renunciation than even the ascetic living in a remote cave. The devotees have this ability, which they maintain and strengthen through their chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

In childhood focus only to enjoy,

Watch television and play with each toy.


In adulthood not so easy to replicate,

Work your enjoyment to regulate.


In Ayodhya Sita enjoying fine things all,

Food and drink available at her call.


Within a second by her renounced,

When news of Rama’s exile announced.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Why To Thank God

[Sita Devi]“I am the daughter of the King Janaka, the great soul, of Videha. My name is Sita and I am the wife of the intelligent one named Rama.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.16)

duhitā janakasya aham vaidehasya mahātmanaḥ ||
sītā ca nāma nāmnā aham bhāryā rāmasya dhīmataḥ |

Download this episode (right click and save)

“Why do people thank God all the time when something good happens? Why don’t they understand that they are responsible for their own outcomes? They are the ones who put in the effort. They endure the struggle. No one else should get the credit. Don’t they understand how silly they look? Do they thank God when something bad happens? When they fail do they race to the microphone to proclaim how the Lord showed favor upon them by punishing them?”

When operating under karma both good and bad are basically the same thing. One brings a temporarily favorable condition while another brings misery that too will eventually dissipate. Neither one has to be asked for or explicitly sought out; they come on their own. Action and reaction, which manipulate the material nature known as prakriti, account for all results. Why, then, do we see people thanking Ishvara, the supreme controller? Are they less intelligent?

[raining]Intelligence in this context refers to vision. The more you can see, the wiser you are. This sight doesn’t necessarily have to be related to that which is in front of me. As an example, when I woke up this morning, I noticed that it was cloudy. The ground was wet as well. By intelligence, I can see that which isn’t presently visible, namely the immediate past. By the results I can infer that it rained the night before. I can also see the future. I know that the clouds will at some point dissipate and give way to the sunshine. The sun’s rays will evaporate the water on the ground, making things dry once again.

We can use this simple example and apply it to all kinds of results. Before bringing Ishvara into the equation, the wise person at least knows that the outcomes to actions are not entirely in their hands. There are the parents to consider. They took care of us in our youth. If not our parents, then at least someone did. We don’t remember emerging from the womb. Though we saw what was going on, we can’t recall it anymore.

Through intelligence in sight, we can go to the past and realize that someone had to take care of us. They had to feed us. They had to hold our head upright when carrying us. They had to train us in discipline, in not giving in to the sense urges at every moment. Though we want to eat cookies all the time, the guardian will limit our intake. Though we want to play video games instead of doing school work, the person in charge will compel us to do the opposite.

[eating cookies]And so in adulthood the wise person gives many thanks to their parents. In the verse quoted above a wise lady identifies herself by first mentioning her relations. She does not give her name right away. What is in a name anyway? My name could be John, but then so many others could have the same name. What distinguishes this John from that John?

Sita is a wonderful name, a divine one at that, but any person can be given that name. That is why the princess here first references her two fathers. There is the father-in-law, King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. There is the father by birth and upbringing, King Janaka of Videha. He is a great soul, or mahatma. He did not fight for independence for a nation. He did not lead a political movement. His quality of mahatma is earned from his knowledge of the self, the identifying force within all living beings.

mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha
daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ
bhajanty ananya-manaso
jñātvā bhūtādim avyayam

“O son of Pritha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.13)

Sita also mentions her husband, Shri Rama. Rama is described to be dhimata. This means a greatly sober personality. It is also synonymous with “intelligent.” A sober person can see the past, present and future much easier than an intoxicated person can. The sober person knows that the body constantly changes, and that at death the body makes a complete change. The living force within remains the same throughout.

dehino 'smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
tathā dehāntara-prāptir
dhīras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.13)

To identify first with the parents and husband like this is a sign of intelligence. Sita does not attribute her greatness to herself, though in good qualities she is unmatched. She pays respect to her guardians and authority figures. She introduces herself in this way also to make sure that Hanuman knows who she is. Both she and Hanuman are foreigners in a territory populated by people who are not sober and who are not mahatmas. They identify with the body only, and they will do anything to find immediate sense gratification. There is no level too low for them to descend in terms of behavior.

[Sita and Hanuman]Sita’s husband is the highest authority figure. He is the Ishvara called out to by those in distress. He is the Supreme Lord thanked when something goes good and He is the person blamed for misfortune. He is responsible for how karma works. Those devoted to Him transcend that karma. They rise above the ignorance of selfishness, and instead they see the good that every person has to offer. They thank everyone else for any good fortune, even if they are due the credit themselves. Sita shows the attitude of the devoted soul, who is the most intelligent, seeing the divine influence everywhere.

In Closing:

Modes of nature over us to rule,

So person thanking God not a fool.


To parents and guardians debt we owe,

Man’s destiny not in own hands we know.


Sita of good qualities no god to produce,

Yet still to parents first to introduce.


Efforts of others devotees recognizing,

Divine hand’s influence in time visualizing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Worshipable Father

[Sita Devi]“I am the daughter-in-law of Dasharatha, the topmost amongst the illustrious kings on earth, who is self-realized and who torments the army of the enemy.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.15)

pṛthivyāṃ rājasiṃhānāṃ mukhyasya viditātmanaḥ ||
snuṣā daśarathasyāham śatrusainyapratāpinaḥ |

Download this episode (right click and save)

Lord Chaitanya has declared that as Krishna is worshipable, so is His land. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the detail behind the abstract. He is the only person who holds the opulences of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom and renunciation to the fullest degree. He is the only being who is all-attractive, from head to toe, from beginning to end, and from inside and out. By His attributes alone He is worshipable, and that which supports Him, which serves to further expand on His infinite attractiveness, is also worthy of honor and respect.

One aspect to God’s beauty is His play. When He is playing the role of the creator of every universe, He rests upon a bed. With ease He makes so many universes manifest by exhaling. When the time for dissolution arrives, He simply inhales. Within those manifest places, He sometimes expands Himself and descends in a form visible to all. During these descents, He does amazing things which are documented in sacred texts.

[Krishna and Yashoda]When appearing, He assigns special personalities to play the important roles in life. If appearing amongst the humans, there must be a mother and a father. His play wouldn’t be as delightful if there weren’t the typical figures around Him. As Krishna, He appears from the womb of mother Devaki. He then gets transferred to the home of mother Yashoda.

As Rama, the Supreme Lord appears in the home of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Who is this Dasharatha? What makes him special? Why did Rama choose his home? There are many reasons. There is a ritualistic practice in the Vedic tradition known as the Satyanarayana Vrata. Once a month, on the occasion of the full moon, devotees fast, perform a worship ceremony, and read different stories about Lord Satyanarayana.

One of those stories mentions that a person in his past life followed the vrata very seriously and then was born as Dasharatha in his next life. This means that Dasharatha was a pious soul. He followed religiosity with attention, and the result to his work was accepting the honorable role of father of the Supreme Lord during His famous appearance as Shri Rama.

The above referenced verse from the Ramayana gives us some more information about Rama’s father. He was the foremost among lion-like kings on earth. The role of king itself is important. Especially during that time period, the Treta Yuga, a king yielded much power. They were known to be the best fighters, for that was required of the leader of the nation.

Dasharatha was a lion-like king, raja-simha. Lions are not afraid, even of the larger elephant. Lions are the king of the jungle. Dasharatha was fearless. There were many lion-like kings on earth during his time, and he was the best among them.

[King Dasharatha]He was also a knower of the self, viditatmana. This means that he was not driven by his senses. Though we may not be consciously aware of the fact, we make judgments of others based on how much they are driven by sense urges. A person who is lean and fit shows some control in eating and behavior. The chaste woman is more respected than the promiscuous one. The law-abiding citizen is superior to the thief. The charitable person is liked more than the miser.

To know the self means to not be driven by temptation at all. Responsibility is what takes priority. This was very important for Dasharatha since he was the leader of a nation. If he should succumb to every urge of eating and sleeping, how would he remain alert in defending his people? And in that defense he was terrific. He was known to torment the armies of the enemy. They had to think twice before attacking his kingdom. Indeed, the demigods in heaven called upon Dasharatha whenever they needed help against their enemies, the formidable asuras.

Sita described all of this to Hanuman when first speaking with him. She proudly identified as the daughter-in-law of that great king. She was Rama’s wife, forever with the Supreme Lord. In different descents she appears differently as well, but she is always so dear to God. She is worshipable for her devotion to Rama and her utmost character. Her father-in-law is worshipable as well, and so is the person who was sent to find her, Shri Hanuman.

[Sita and Hanuman]Thus the qualities of these noteworthy individuals affirm the claim of Mahaprabhu that those things relating to Krishna are worshipable as well. Thinking of Dasharatha brings the mind closer to Rama, as does thinking about Sita and Hanuman.

In Closing:

Worship to Krishna’s land to extend,

And also those who a helping hand land.


By pious deeds role as Rama’s father earned,

More of his nature from Sita Devi learned.


Of all the lion-like kings Dasharatha the best,

Armies tormented when with him they messed.


All of this worshipable that father making,

No wonder Sita identity from relationship taking.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Nothing To Be Changed

Sita Devi“Hearing his words, Sita was delighted by the mention of Rama. She then spoke the following words to Hanuman, who was seated on a tree.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.14)

sā tasya vacanam śrutvā rāma kīrtana harṣitā ||
uvāca vākyam vaidehī hanūmantam druma āśritam |

Download this episode (right click and save)

If you’re really missing someone, isn’t it better to just forget about them? Not to insult the relationship you have to them, and not to downplay what they mean to you, but forget them for a short while as a means of coping. Isn’t this option better than constantly longing for the reunion, whose time and existence are uncertain? From the reaction of Sita Devi in the Ashoka grove in Lanka, we see that when it comes to the association of the Supreme Lord the devoted souls are helpless. They must long for His association when separated, and conversely they must feel tremendous delight when gaining His company, even if it is through a mere mention.

Everyone has this longing originally. This means that everyone has tried the option of forgetfulness. Instead of missing the person of only good attributes, gunas, the separated living entity chooses to do anything else. That anything else is known as the material existence. The life is characterized as such since the focus is on that which is not the Supreme Lord. He is indeed everything, but the spiritual is what represents Him directly. The material is the association indirectly, and it is the shelter for those who choose forgetfulness.

sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham

“I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)

Indeed, it is through God’s sanction that forgetfulness is even possible. He is the source behind remembrance as well. When the child emerges from the womb and gradually learns how to walk and talk, it is due to the natural intelligence provided by the Supreme Lord. Forgetfulness of Him is a choice we make, and He does not interfere with our decision.

Let’s say that we made this choice a long time back. The Supreme Lord gives us forgetfulness, so that means that we can’t remember when we made this choice. We can’t remember when the option was presented to us. Nevertheless, now we are in a material existence. We still have attachments. Leaving one place does not mean that we have permanently left behind longing.

Every day so many attachments are formed. We innocently decide to watch a television game show one day. Then we develop a habit. Pretty soon we have our favorite players. We want them to win. When they lose the big game, we are sad. We wish for their success, and failure leads to unhappiness. All of this came about through an attachment formed at the beginning.

The original separation from God did not bring us the peace of mind we thought it would. In fact, the life of longing for Him is superior to the life of forgetting Him, even if the circumstances seem to say otherwise. For example, in the land of Lanka a long time ago Sita Devi found herself separated from her friends and family. Practically none of the people in this land were her well-wishers. The evil king had dragged her there against her will. She was already married, but Ravana did not care. He wanted to make her his chief queen.

Aside from her own misfortune, there was the terrible longing that Sita felt. Her husband possesses the best qualities. He is the source of remembrance and forgetfulness, the person to whom every living thing is intimately tied. Sita was with Him in the personal form of Rama, happily going with Him wherever He went. Now she was separated from Him, wondering if she would ever meet Him again.

Based upon the previous analysis, one option for her would be to forget. Simply eliminate the thought of Rama. Pretend like she never knew Him. Take shelter of the present surroundings, which offered every material delight. Indeed, so many would choose this option as a way to cope, but for Sita it is impossible. When separated from Rama, she must feel longing. And when hearing of Him, she must feel delight.

In this situation the delight came through Shri Hanuman, who did Rama-kirtana. The word “kirtana” is generally associated with chanting the holy names, such as in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Kirtana also means “to describe.” Hanuman did that when he first approached Sita. He was sent to find her by Rama, and he had succeeded in that. He needed a way to introduce himself, though.

[Sita and Hanuman]Kirtana can also mean “to mention.” All it takes is a mere mention of Rama in a good light for Sita to become happy. Rama-kirtana brings her great pleasure, irrespective of other conditions. Even if Rama is apparently not presently by her, just hearing about Him gives her some relief. That relief, even if brief, brings more happiness than any kind of so-called enjoyment available in a life of forgetfulness.

Each person is meant to reawaken their longing for God, who promises to come to anyone who genuinely wants His company. This means that He will not necessarily be with the person who asks Him for things that will lead to further forgetfulness. Money, fame, women, wine, opulence, beauty and the like - God can give these very easily to any person. Yet as standalones, none of these will bring remembrance of Him, so they will also not bring His association, even if He is the one granting them.

The constitutional position of the living entity cannot be changed. Even if there is perfection in mystic yoga, with nirvana achieved, the fact of the individual spirit soul being delighted by Rama-kirtana will not change. Rama is also Krishna and Vishnu. He is known as Hari as well. So any kind of kirtana of the Supreme Personality of Godhead will bring a variety of delight far superior to what is available under any other consciousness.

In Closing:

When mind on departing is set,

Supreme Lord allowing you to forget.


Experience showing that not the wisest choice,

With new attachments to longing to give voice.


Better if for God’s company to long,

And gain it through maha-mantra’s song.


Rama-kirtana to Sita to bring delight,

Whether in peace or in perilous plight.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Rama Kirtana

[Sita Devi]“Hearing his words, Sita was delighted by the mention of Rama. She then spoke the following words to Hanuman, who was seated on a tree.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.14)

sā tasya vacanam śrutvā rāma kīrtana harṣitā ||
uvāca vākyam vaidehī hanūmantam druma āśritam |

Download this episode (right click and save)

In the Vedas we get many different names for God. He is Ajita. This means “unconquerable.” No one can defeat Him. Losing is only for the fallible. Since God is infallible, another name for Him is Achyuta. Since He is without a beginning, He is anadi. As He is the cause of all causes, another term to describe Him is sarva-karana-karanam. Since He is full of transcendental pleasure, Rama is also a way to address Him. Rama is a personality too, appearing on earth as the son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya.

Just as God has many names, the same applies for His eternal consort. Playing the role of Rama’s wife on earth, one of her names is Sita. This name is very endearing, as it is given by the father Janaka, the king of Videha. Since she hails from that land, she is also known as Vaidehi. In the spiritual world, she resides by the side of her husband Narayana, who is the source of all men. She is Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune. She is also Chanchala, since fortune is known to be unsteady, not staying for very long. Since she is Janaka’s daughter, Sita is also known as Janaki.

[Sita Devi]These many names describe relationships and characteristics. In the verse quoted above, we see another way to understand Sita. She is someone who takes delight at the mention of Rama. This is a very important description, because it speaks to her dharma, or defining characteristic. Fortune comes and goes. Sometimes God’s eternal consort appears as Radharani as well, who is the daughter of King Vrishabhanu. She appears as the daughter of the ocean when coming to this world as Lakshmi.

So appearances and relationships vary based on time and circumstance, but the defining characteristic is always the same. The goddess of fortune is happiest when hearing about her husband. The mere mention of His name puts her into a better mood. That happens for sure when she is living in a palace filled with her closest friends. Even if she has Rama by her side, she gets thrilled hearing someone speak nicely of Him.

In this situation, the conditions aren’t ideal. She is in an enemy territory. The only reason she is hearing about Rama is that someone was sent by Him to look for her. Not that she wandered off in anger or got lost enjoying the scenery of the forest - Ravana took her away by force. He did it in secret too, for he knows that Rama is Ajita. Rama would not have lost to Ravana in a fight, so the evil king of Lanka devised a scheme where he could take Sita away while Rama was not within vicinity.

Hanuman has introduced himself by speaking about Rama. This place isn’t conducive to the practice of devotional service. It is not known for godliness. The signs of atheism are prevalent, shown primarily in the excessive sense gratification. Control of the sense urges is on the side of godliness, as only with sobriety in thought can one appreciate, remember and honor the Supreme Lord.

By speaking about Rama, giving words that were true, Hanuman showed himself to be a friend. He delighted Sita by his words. She was not so much interested in praise of herself. She did not need to be flattered in such a way. She takes more delight in hearing nice things about her beloved.

[Sita and Hanuman]This verse removes any doubt over the effectiveness of chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. That chanting is also kirtana. It is a mention of Rama, and it is also a glorification of Him. When coming from the devoted soul it has more effectiveness. The more one chants this mantra, the more devoted they become, and in the process the more they please the goddess of fortune, Rama’s beloved.

In Closing:

Like husband not limited to form any,

Goddess of fortune appearing in ways many.


As Sita to act as Shri Rama’s wife,

Service to Him her vow throughout life.


Through praise just mention of His name,

So pleasing, as if by her side the same.


Hanuman such delight to Sita brought,

Doubt over Rama kirtana remove any thought.