Friday, February 5, 2016

Different Ways of Showing Affection

Rama_Darbar_YR12“His invincible half-brother Lakshmana, the son of Sumitra, is also just like Rama in affection, appearance and qualities.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.22)

bhrātā ca tasya dvaimātraḥ saumitriḥ aparājitaḥ |
anurāgena rūpeṇa guṇaiḥ caiva tathā vidhaḥ ||

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If you really care about somebody, how do you let them know? It should be in a way that’s believable, that accurately reflects your feelings. It should be in a way that is honest, not deceitful. After all, you don’t want them to get the wrong idea. A common way is with words, but in the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, the person of whom Hanuman speaks shows his unmatched affection for the Supreme Lord in a host of other ways.

“I shouldn’t have written the letter.” This is the regret when the feelings put down on paper and shown to the object of affection don’t bring the intended result. The letter was carefully drafted, checked and double checked for errors. Yet somehow the recipient misread the tone. Instead of now knowing just how much you care about them, they think you are cold and calculating. They claim that you are trying to win their heart through clever, insincere flattery.

“Actions speak louder than words.” This is a famous saying that means that what you do says more about you than the actual words that you use. One need look no further than the arena of politics to understand this truth. The politicians are expert at making promises. They show up to an event, deliver a few remarks [that were likely prepared beforehand], and then move on to the next destination.

Their oratory skills aside, it is the power to shape laws that makes them important. They can say all the right things, but what really affects the people is the legislation and the execution of the law. They can promise to take care of poverty and inequities in the enforcement of specific laws, but if after their term in office nothing changes, then the actions revealed more about the politician than their many speeches.

Shri Hanuman here references Lakshmana, who is one of three younger brothers to Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. Hanuman has already gone over some of Rama’s endless virtues. The volume of Vedic literature is impossible to accurately measure. It keeps expanding. If you take the original Veda, which consists of hymns praising the Supreme and His associates, you can expand on that by sharing your own thoughts. If your thoughts are not speculations, but rather accurate descriptions suited to the time and circumstance, and if those thoughts are recorded the books become like an extension of the Vedas. In this way Vedic literature continues to expand, providing every generation an opportunity to find God and stay connected with Him throughout their time on this earth.

Rama_Darbar_YR28Connected is the best way to describe Lakshmana. He never leaves Rama’s side. This is not like an annoying little brother who insists on tagging along when the elder just wants to be left alone. Rama and Lakshmana are of the kshatriya order. The root meaning to the Sanskrit word is “one who protects from injury.” The brothers are trained in the ancient military arts, the Dhanurveda, and so they carry a bow and arrow set with them wherever they go.

Hanuman says that Lakshmana is equal to Rama in affection. The Sanskrit word is anuraga. Rama is already the most affectionate since He is the Supreme Lord Himself. God can indeed appear on this earth whenever He wants. In the Bhagavad-gita He gives the general conditions that lead to those appearances. He protects the sadhus, or saints, and annihilates the miscreants.

paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ

vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām

dharma-saṁsthāpanārthāya

sambhavāmi yuge yuge

“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.8)

Rama speaks very little, as He plays the role of a chivalrous prince. Lakshmana speaks even less, as He is always following Rama. Anu means “to follow” and raga is “attachment.” He follows Rama out of love. He shows his endless compassion for the jewel of the Raghu dynasty by refusing to enjoy the pleasures of life without Rama. In the famous bow contest in Tirahuta, Lakshmana had a chance to lift the bow and possibly win the hand of Sita Devi in marriage. He would never do such a thing in the presence of Rama, as he wants more for Rama than he wants for himself.

When they are in the forest, Lakshmana shows his love by standing guard throughout the night, making sure no one attempts a sneak attack on Rama and Sita. He gladly takes up the project of building a hut for the trio when asked by Rama. His reply to Rama reveals everything. Lakshmana says that if commanded for one hundred years even, he would never stop serving Rama.

“Oh Rama, for as long as You shall stand before me, even if it be for one hundred years, I will always remain Your servant. Therefore You should be the one to choose a beautiful and appropriate place for the cottage. After You have selected a spot, please then command me to start building.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 15.7)

017215Lakshmana sometimes shows love through anger. He fights furiously against enemies who dare attack Rama. He empowers other representatives of God, who are similarly brave in their protection of God and His interests. It is sometimes seen that the spiritual master, or guru, speaks strongly when discussing devotional service, the highest occupation for man. They use words like “rascal” and “fool” when describing those who are against bhakti-yoga. This is all in line with Lakshmana’s mood, who out of love for Rama remains brave and strong, revealing that his interest is merged with Rama’s.

In Closing:

Rama’s interests always to save,

Lakshmana staying strong and brave.

 

In case others into sneak attack to leap,

Lakshmana vigil throughout the night to keep.

 

Not until Rama first taken His seat,

Will Lakshmana consider even to eat.

 

With more than just words showing,

Affectionate always with Rama going.