“I am His younger brother, Lakshmana by name. Due to His transcendental qualities, I have taken up service to Him, as He is grateful and very knowledgeable.” (Lakshmana speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 4.12)Download this episode (right click and save)
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is full of goodness. The Sanskrit term is shudda-sattva. This is pure goodness; not tainted by any of the material modes of nature. Even the celestials have some hint of material desire in them. Despite living on the heavenly planets and having direct access to the Supreme Lord, sometimes the illusory energy known as maya gets a hold of them.
Since He is all-attractive, one of God’s names is Krishna. He is also all-pervading; hence He is known as Ishvara. Since He is superior to the individual soul, He is also known as Paramatma. From whatever angle of vision we come, there is a way to relate to the Almighty. Based on His supreme standing, He is automatically fit for worship. He is the person to love the most.
Despite not needing to provide any justification for why others should worship Him, He is still kind enough to appear on earth every now and then. Since He is pure goodness, He doesn’t have to behave ideally, either. When He steals butter from the homes of the neighbors in Vrindavana, He is glorified for it for all of eternity. In His incarnation of Shri Rama, who appeared on earth during the second time period of creation, He acted in certain ways to catch the attention of devotees. Once bound in the net of prema, or transcendental love, there is no letting go of that beloved husband of Sita.
1. He walks the righteous path
The saintly kings in the early periods of the creation upheld dharma. There are several meanings to this Sanskrit word, but in relation to protectors it means “virtue.” The kings made sure everyone was behaving righteously, including themselves. Shri Rama was the ideal king since He always walked the righteous path.
One aspect to a righteous king is impartiality. Basically, don’t show favors to people who influence you. Uphold the law, and don’t hold a grudge, either. Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana one time remarked that even the people Rama punished from time to time weren’t upset at Him. They knew that He was simply abiding by the duties of the princely order. This feature in Rama is especially attractive to those who pride themselves on doing good, on being polite and following etiquette.
2. He sacrifices for others
Who is more adored in society? The person who constantly enjoys, doing whatever they want, whenever they want. Or is it the person who doesn’t think of themselves, sacrificing everything for the benefit of others? Obviously, the latter gets more positive attention due to the fact that it is difficult to make sacrifices. Who wants to intentionally be in pain just so that someone else can enjoy?
Shri Rama sacrificed the kingdom and His ability to rule over Ayodhya. He did this to uphold the good name of His father, Dasharatha. Rama left home for fourteen years, and He didn’t take much with Him. Though Sita came along, the two refrained from amorous pastimes. They both observed the vow of brahmacharya.
Rama helped a distressed Vanara named Sugriva. Though He didn’t know Sugriva for long, Rama inserted Himself in the conflict between Sugriva and his brother Vali. Indeed, Rama never seeks personal comforts. He is always concerned with what those who are dear to Him desire.
3. He is grateful to His friends
Shri Lakshmana also remarked on this feature. It’s very easy to forget. We can’t remember what we ate for breakfast two days ago. It’s simply impossible to keep so much information in the brain, ready to be accessed at any time. Part of forgetfulness means not remembering good deeds others have done for us. Indeed, just one bad experience with a person puts a black mark on them. Even if they were our friend before, cross me once and it’s over.
Shri Rama is not like that. Just one deed done in His favor is remembered forever. There is the example of Jatayu, who risked his life trying to save Sita from the evil Ravana. The Vanaras working for Sugriva risked their lives to help rescue Sita afterwards. Rama never forgets, and so one who is devoted to Him finds the most grateful friend.
4. He brings fame to those who love Him
Rama continues to be famous in this world, long after His appearance, due to parampara. This is disciplic succession, where one person passes on what they know to someone else. The chain continues, and in this chain there is constant glorification of the hero of the Raghu dynasty.
The glorification is helped by an ancient Sanskrit text known as the Ramayana. This is a detailed account of Rama’s life and pastimes, though information can be found in other Vedic texts as well, such as the Puranas. Though the Ramayana is named after Him, Rama still gives fame to others. There is an entire section dedicated to the heroic exploits of Shri Hanuman. He is the chief minister to Sugriva. Since he was all by himself at the end of the search for Sita, Rama made sure everyone would know the greatness of His devotee. Rama chose Hanuman to have the fame of finding Sita. Today he is just as famous as Rama, and worshiped prominently in Vedic culture.
5. He is the ideal family man
There is a simple formula for making a film popular. Aside from getting good actors and including comedy and maybe some violence, stay on the issue of family. Stress the importance of spending time with the spouse and kids over chasing after the mighty dollar. Every person has a soft spot for their family members, after all.
In Shri Rama, a person finds the ideal family man. Though He walks the righteous path, He is not above persuasion. He gave in to the requests of Sita and Lakshmana to accompany Him to the forest. He loves His other brothers, Bharata and Shatrughna, just as much. He considers the Vanaras to be like family. He treats every citizen in Ayodhya like they are His dependent. Not surprisingly, Shri Rama is God Himself; He is pure love. That love attracts the devotees to His lotus feet. Though drawn in by His activities and deeds, the end result is what is important: continued devotion.
Spontaneously devoted should be,
But attracted when good qualities to see.
Like with Shri Rama shown,
To forest leaving everything to own.
In work for friends never tiring,
Like for Sugriva arrow firing.
To Shri Hanuman and others giving fame,
Blessed is the world that to it Rama came.