Saturday, February 6, 2016

Tigers Among Men

017915“Those two tigers among men anxiously desire to see you. Searching the whole earth, they came together with us.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.23)

tāvubhau naraśārḍūlau tvaddarśanasamutsukau |
vicinvanau mahīm kṛtsnāmasmābhirabhisamgātau ||

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The living entity, the spirit soul, the atma, is known as sarvaga. This means that it can go anywhere. With great difficulty man attempts the journey into outer space. They require a costly rocket ship, built just perfectly to withstand the long and difficult journey. At the individual level, there is the need for oxygen tanks . With these artificial means man can temporarily inhabit foreign areas, including deep below the surface of the water.

Yet the artificial means are not necessary. There is life everywhere. The soul of the fish is the same in quality as the soul of the bird. One flies through the air while the other cannot survive outside of the water. The change in location occurs through time, which operates according to karma, or fruitive work. The soul is covered by the material nature, prakriti. The prakriti changes based on the factors of time and karma, which are influenced by the living being, jiva.

There is variety to the species. There are those that don’t move, like the trees. Then there are those with many legs, like the insects. There are those without any legs, like the birds. Among the four-legged animals, there are those who are more ferocious than the others. The lion is the king of the jungle. It instills fear through a simple roar.

image8The tiger is one of the feared animals. It is non-vegetarian; it eats other animals in order to survive. The tiger kills its prey; it does not rely on others to do the dirty work. Though the tiger lacks features of civilized behavior, it nonetheless gets enough food to eat. Based on animal instincts alone, it can survive.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman refers to two brothers as tigers among men. The exact word is narashardula. Nara means “man” and shardula means “tiger.” The description is used as a way to illustrate the prowess of the two brothers. If they need to attack, they do so with domination. They do not suffer defeat in battle.

The description is appropriate to the context. In Lanka, it appeared that the Rakshasas were tigers among men. They indeed feasted on the flesh of other living entities, up to human beings in fact. The leader Ravana and his men would attack innocent sages living in the forests. They would attack in the dark of night, use deadly force, and then consume the dead bodies.

Unlike tigers, man is supposed to use discrimination. They have dominion over the animal kingdom for sure, but with power comes responsibility. Parents have dominion over the children, but this doesn’t give them license to kill and eat the children. In the same way, the civilized human being doesn’t have the sanction to cause needless suffering to others in order to satisfy the tongue.

The behavior of the Rakshasas was actually cowardly. It was more the way of snakes than tigers. The true tigers among men were Rama and Lakshmana, brothers coming from Ayodhya. Hanuman describes them in this way to reassure Sita that Ravana and his men would be defeated. The Rakshasas would be like the prey to the tigers walking the earth as human beings. Those tigers would act according to dharma, or duty. They would provide the just punishment that was due Ravana, who had perpetrated an iniquitous deed in stealing Sita away in secret.

“Lakshmana, who is His [Rama’s] brother from a different mother, is very powerful. That tiger among men is Rama’s assistant and the destroyer of enemies in battle. His brother named Lakshmana follows the Vedic principles with firm determination. Carrying a bow in his hand, he has renounced his home in order to follow Rama along with myself.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.18-19)

017933Sita herself had previously given a similar description of Lakshmana. This was when she was speaking to Ravana one time. The word she used was vyaghra, which is another Sanskrit word for tiger. Hanuman and Sita thus shared the same opinion of Rama’s younger brother. Great minds think alike.

Rama and Lakshmana were on the hunt for the fiend who took Sita after she had gone missing. The search for her led them to Hanuman and his Vanara friends in Kishkindha. Rama is the Supreme Lord in His incarnation made famous through the Ramayana and other authentic Vedic works. Rama and Lakshmana are one. Rama is God who is offered service, and Lakshmana is the aspect of the divine that offers the service. They are identical in that they share the same interest.

33814The Supreme Lord can be as gentle as a feather and as ferocious as a lion. In His four-handed form of Vishnu, He holds the lotus flower, the conch, the club and the disc. The former two items are symbols of peace; they are for the pleasure of the devotees. The latter two are weapons; they are used for the protection of the devotees. Each item is actually the same in nature; they are glorious in their own right. For the protection of the devoted souls, the Supreme Lord brings the swiftness and attack capabilities of the tiger, who easily triumphs over the miscreants, who act more like cowardly jackals. Ravana had no respect for God or His property, and so He was soon to reap the punishment for that costly mistake.

In Closing:

Thinking that God’s property could take,

Ravana soon to reap punishment for mistake.


Though seemingly getting away then,

Approaching fast were tigers among men.


Rama with Lakshmana younger brother,

Complexion only difference between each other.


Hanuman and Sita the same description using,

Appropriate term of tiger for them choosing.

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


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.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Complete With Everything

rama-vijaya-113“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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Nama, rupa, guna and lila. These are the four important components to the Almighty, the individual the majority of the world today refers to as God. There is much to know about Him. In fact, it is impossible for the human mind to know everything, as it is limited by the boundaries of time and space. Both time and space are never ending, which means that the mind can ponder endlessly about the past, the coming future, and the possible destinations to which to travel.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha

yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ

asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ

yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu

“Now hear, O son of Pritha [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.1)

Despite the limitations, it is possible to know God in truth. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, where Shri Krishna lists the necessary conditions. The key is to practice yoga, having full consciousness of the Supreme Lord. There should also be attachment to Him.

In the present age the best way to practice this yoga is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. These names are the nama aspect mentioned before. The name is very powerful. A secluded spot in a high mountain area is not required for perfection in yoga. Neither is a slim and trim body, flexible enough to bend in difficult postures. The holy name is sufficient. Concentrating on it can bring perfection.

The perfection doesn’t necessarily have to take a long time to manifest, either. This is because the name automatically brings the rupa, guna and lila. Rupa is the form, or appearance. The Sanskrit word also means beauty. Form in the material world relates to the gross elements that cover the otherwise spotless spirit soul. The body is like a holding cell, limiting what the soul can do. The size of the soul is the same in the giant elephant and in the tiny ant. This means that the soul’s capabilities are great. The type of body is what determines how much that ability gets suppressed.

The Supreme Lord has a transcendental form, since He is never limited by anything. The material elements have no effect on Him. That is the meaning to transcendental. He displays a form distinguishable to the eyes of the conditioned soul whenever and wherever He so chooses. The rupa is not singular, but the variations are identical in the person they represent. The person who concentrates on the name soon gets a clear vision of the rupa.

The rupa gives an idea of the gunas. These are qualities, generally referring to material qualities. But in the case of the Almighty, the gunas are all good. Hence they are like glories. Examples of gunas are kindness, a charitable disposition, strength, wealth, beauty, fame, wisdom, forgiveness and gratefulness. Whatever quality is admirable in another person, know that the Supreme Lord possesses the same to the highest degree.

The rupa and guna combine to give lila, or pastimes. These are activities performed on this planet and many others by the Almighty. This means that God is not just an abstract figure, someone who is to intentionally remain distant. Rather, the living beings are encouraged to get closer and closer to Him. There is facility for this, and initiation takes place through the name. The Sanskrit word for the sacred thread that marks entry into the second and more important life of service to the spiritual master is upavita. Taking the definition from the root words, we see that initiation is a way to get closer. Go towards transcendence, following the guidance of someone who is already close to God. Make progress through the power of the holy name.

rama-vijaya-129With lila, the Supreme Lord must have others with whom to interact. Does this mean the other associates are absent when the name is chanted? The above referenced verse from the Ramayana shows that the associates accompany God and His name. Here Shri Hanuman is speaking of Lakshmana, the younger brother of Shri Rama. Rama is the Supreme Lord appearing to the eyes in the rupa of a warrior prince, the son of King Dasharatha. In Rama’s lila, Lakshmana is always with Him.

In fact, if someone describes Rama and claims to be an expert on this avatara of the Supreme Lord, they must know Lakshmana as well. The son of Sumitra always follows his half-brother, through thick and thin. If Rama were going to hell even, Lakshmana would follow. He would stand guard, ready to use his invincibility in battle to protect his elder brother.

KGrHqMOKpYE4lkfjkDBOLqYFQoQ0_312Hanuman had met both brothers previously, and that is why he could describe them perfectly to Sita Devi, who is Rama’s wife. To this day he continues in his yoga, meditating on God through chanting the holy names. Though Hanuman may appear to be by himself, he is never alone. He has Sita and Lakshmana there with him, and they are enjoying in the company of their beloved Rama.

In Closing:

Hanuman always in kirtana known,

Though isolated, never alone.


Sita and Lakshmana there the same,

Associates accompanying the holy name.


The name including with it rupa,

The bodily form, with it lila and guna.


Chant with attachment and desires free,

Then easily recognize features other three.

Knowing His Associates

WelcomingRamaLakshmana_cover13“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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The burden of proof was on Hanuman. Unlike in the modern day court of law, he was guilty until proven innocent. The judge and the jury were a single person, the princess of Videha. The charge was impersonating a friend and actually being a Rakshasa, which is like a man-eating ogre. Hanuman did not have the benefit of counsel. He was forced to represent himself. Sita would make the final determination as to his guilt or innocence.

image7Circumstantial evidence pointed to a guilty verdict. Sita was in Lanka for a while, and she noticed that everyone in that place was duplicitous. They were not truthful, to the point of masking their own form. She arrived there on the back of a great crime in deceit, perpetrated by Lanka’s leader Ravana. He impersonated a man of the cloth, a parivrajaka sannyasi, wandering the Dandaka forest. Taking advantage of Sita’s innocence, he forcefully dragged her back to Lanka, thereby separating her from her beloved husband Rama.

Hanuman claimed to be sent by Rama directly. He was on a mission to find her. All well and good, but Hanuman was in the body of a monkey. Ravana possessed the kama-rupa-siddhi. Breaking down the individual Sanskrit words, this means the mystic perfection of being able to take any form desired. Forget turning invisible every now and then, imagine if you could give off whatever appearance you wanted at any moment in time. This is what Ravana could do. It is not merely a thing of legend, either. Through perfection in mysticism, the individual soul can do amazing things.

Interestingly, Hanuman possessed the same perfection. Yet when meeting Sita he chose to remain in his true form, that of a forest-dweller, known as a Vanara in Sanskrit. The closest equivalent to species found in today’s world is a monkey. Hanuman could talk, though. His speech was brilliant both in composition and delivery. He was well-versed in the language of the gods, Sanskrit. His speaking ability was so exceptional that he impressed Rama immediately during their first meeting.

“One cannot speak this way without having been well-trained in the Rig Veda, memorized the Yajur Veda, and thoroughly understood the Sama Veda.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana about Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.28)

BWNvd0wBGkKGrHgoH-CUEjlLl1UPiBKWcli8[1]Using his natural form and taking advantage of his excellence in speech, Hanuman approached Sita. Despite speaking the truth, Sita was still skeptical. She was certainly justified, as everyone else in Lanka was against her. Nevertheless, she was pleased beyond belief to be hearing about her husband. The news was so soothing that she asked Hanuman to continue speaking. In the process, he would give proof to his genuineness.

Hanuman obliged. He spoke perfectly about Rama, the prince of the Raghu dynasty. He explained Rama’s excellent qualities, His spotless behavior, and the auspicious signs found on His body. These words left no doubt that Hanuman knew Rama the person very well.

Still, there is more to know. If a person truly understands the Supreme Lord, they will know about His associates as well. Rama is an incarnation of God the person, and in that descent, known as an avatara, there are certain personalities that are always associated with Him. Hanuman and Sita are two of them, with Hanuman acting as representative and emissary and Sita as faithful and devoted wife. The Sanskrit terms dharma-patni and sadharma-charini both apply to Sita based on her faith to her husband and the duty which she followed.

In this verse from the Ramayana, Hanuman shows again that he really does know Rama. If he had indeed met the son of Dasharatha in Dandaka, as he claimed, he would certainly have met Lakshmana too. The name used to reference Lakshmana here is Saumitri. This means the son of Sumitra. Lakshmana is Rama’s brother, but from a different mother. The father Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya, had three queens. Lakshmana was born to Sumitra and Rama to Kausalya.

Hanuman may have picked up this fact along the way, from people who discussed Rama and Sita. To give further evidence of his knowledge, Hanuman says that Lakshmana is invincible. The Sanskrit word is aparajita, which also means undefeated and unsurpassed. Rama was a great bow-warrior, and He was going to come to Lanka to rescue Sita. He would bring with Him the invincible younger brother.

WelcomingRamaLakshmana_cover27Hanuman says that Lakshmana is just like Rama in affection, appearance and qualities. They are like twins in every respect except one: complexion. Rama is of the shyama complexion, which is dark. Lakshmana is gaura, which is golden. When you get Rama, you get Lakshmana, and vice versa. Those who really know God in His incarnation of the son of Kausalya know that the dearly beloved younger brother Lakshmana is always with Him, wherever He goes.

In Closing:

Shri Rama, a person who Lord really knowing,

Affirms that Lakshmana with Him wherever going.


Like twin brothers are the two,

Only difference in bodily hue.


In Rama a dark complexion is there,

Lakshmana gaura, golden and fair.


From Shri Hanuman proper understanding get,

On his shoulders two brothers happily set.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Speaking Dearly To The Entire World

WelcomingRamaLakshmana_cover14“He is devoted to the truth and righteousness. He is glorious and seeks the kind treatment and favor of the people. He is cognizant of time and place, and speaks dearly to the entire world.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.21)

satya dharma paraḥ śrīmān samgraha anugrahe rataḥ |
deśa kāla vibhāgajñaḥ sarva loka priyam vadaḥ ||

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This verse from the Ramayana debunks the myth that God is an old and angry man. For starters, aging is a defect found in a material existence, a byproduct of accepting a body consisting of the elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether. The material nature is prakriti, and two of its features are misery and impermanence. These are effected through time, which knows what to do based on the results to work, the fruits of karma.

Shri Rama is Ishvara, or the Supreme Controller. He is different from jiva, or the living entity. Only jiva interacts with prakriti. Jiva is purusha and so is Ishvara, but jiva is also a kind of prakriti. It is a higher material nature, and in the present land the higher doesn’t realize that it is superior to the lower prakriti. Therefore unwanted things like old age, disease and death occur.

God is not vengeful because He has no reason to be. Wrath and anger are the result of frustrated desire. The jiva cannot always get what it wants since prakriti is there for other jivas as well. Each individual has their own story as it relates to karma, and so time has a different effect. One person’s karma intermingles with another person’s, and collisions and unwanted outcomes are the result.

In this verse Shri Hanuman says that Rama speaks dearly to the entire world. This should not be misunderstood to mean that Rama simply flatters everyone. One time He had an encounter with an ogre named Khara. This ogre and his friends had made a business of attacking innocent sages living in the forest of Dandaka. Those sages were in the brahmana occupation, which features nonviolence. The brahmana sees the spiritual equality shared by all living beings, and so they typically don’t have enemies. Everyone is a friend to them.

The ogres from Lanka took advantage of this kindness. They would attack the sages in the middle of the night, kill them, and then eat their flesh. It looked like they were getting away with these unspeakable acts. Then one day Rama arrived on the scene to defend. In a one-on-one encounter with Khara, Rama reminded the ogre that the fruits of bad karma arrive at the appropriate time. When they do, the results are ghastly.

“Just as a tree starts to blossom during the proper season, so the doer of sinful deeds inevitably reaps the horrible fruit of their actions at the appropriate time.” (Lord Rama speaking to Khara, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 29.8)

B5MVbGgCWkKGrHqJgwEyEQMBfwvBMsqf0VEyThis is actually speaking dearly. Rama only speaks the truth, and He doesn’t hide the truth to fit the audience. These words were dear to Khara because the ogre needed to hear them. The words were recorded in the sacred Ramayana for future generations to hear also. They answer the question that baffles even the most intelligent minds. The answer to the question of “why do good things happen to bad people” is that time operates appropriately. Karma never gets forgotten. The higher authorities know everything.

Shri Rama is the highest authority. He accompanies the jiva wherever they go. He does this through the expansion of the Supersoul. Another word to describe this feature of God is antaryami, or the all-seeing witness. The Supersoul is impartial; He does not interfere with the free will of the jiva. The Supersoul always wants the best for the jiva, but in this feature God does not take the impetus to act.

When in the incarnation of Rama He speaks, and when He does the words are always dear. Sita Devi knew this, and she was pleased to hear that Hanuman knew it as well. Rama’s words to Hanuman about the mission ahead were also dear. He asked Hanuman to find Sita, His beloved wife who had gone missing in that very forest of Dandaka.

Those words were dear to Hanuman because they enabled him to do extraordinary things in the mission of devotion. They allowed him to meet Sita, who was a peer in the sense that she too had tremendous love for the prince of the Raghu dynasty.

sri-ram-blessing-hanuman12Rama also speaks dearly in His original form of Shri Krishna, most notably on the battlefield of Kurukshetra to the distressed warrior Arjuna. Those sacred words are preserved in the Bhagavad-gita, the best book to enlighten the entire world, to rescue them from the darkness that has clouded the otherwise pure consciousness for too long.

In Closing:

Covered by darkness too long,

Enveloped in ignorance strong.


From that impediment to be clear,

Listen to words from God coming dear.


Even when to enemy Khara criticizing,

Benefit to him and others from chastising.


As impartial Supersoul not to speak,

But as Rama welfare for everyone to seek.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Considering Time and Place

IMG_13388“He is devoted to the truth and righteousness. He is glorious and seeks the kind treatment and favor of the people. He is cognizant of time and place, and speaks dearly to the entire world.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.21)

satya dharma paraḥ śrīmān samgraha anugrahe rataḥ |
deśa kāla vibhāgajñaḥ sarva loka priyam vadaḥ ||

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Shri Hanuman here mentions two words that appear frequently in discussions on Vedic philosophy. The words in this verse are in relation to Shri Rama, the husband of Sita Devi. The Supreme Lord and His followers are always respectful of these two terms, adjusting their direction so that the work is always accomplished. There is no wasted effort when the consciousness is tied to the Divine.

The two words are desha and kala. These are place and time. The relevance of these terms is not exclusive to the high philosophy of the Vedas. A simple example is driving. Depending on the place, the rules are different. In an urban area in America, it is against the law to make a right turn on red. In a suburban area, such a turn is allowed. Thus there is a difference in righteousness based on the place. In other countries, the drivers are told to stay on a different side of the road entirely.

image3Staying with the driving example, when there is a red light, the drivers are supposed to stop. When there is a green light, they can go. Thus there is a difference in righteousness based on time. When the light is red, it is not the proper time to proceed. Doing so at that time would lead to bad results. The idea is that if you go against time and circumstance, you could meet disaster.

Hanuman’s mentioning of time and place in relation to Rama is important because of the person to whom he is speaking. There is time and place considerations within this very verse from the Ramayana. Hanuman is speaking to Sita Devi. They are in Lanka, an island ruled at the time by man-eating ogres known as Rakshasas. Lanka is a place far away from any mainland. Sita is separated from Rama. She is wondering when and if He will come to rescue her, as the king of Lanka had taken her away from Rama’s side in secret. Ravana stole her away and it seemed like he was getting away with it.

Rama was going to arrive soon, but when the time and circumstance were appropriate. It should be noted that for the Supreme Lord, both kala and desha are always in His favor. Still, when He appears on earth as a warrior prince, He sets the proper example for behavior. Rama does not act on a whim. Through His deliberate and intelligent actions, He shows others the right path to follow.

Time and place dictated that Hanuman first go and find Sita. After he would return, then the entire army of Vanaras who were working with Rama would march to Lanka to rescue Sita. Previous to this, Rama gave respect to time and place by voluntarily leaving the kingdom of Ayodhya. Though everyone wanted Him to stay, Rama knew that the right action was to leave as commanded by His father, King Dasharatha.

"O best of men, what is the use of Your destroying the entire world? After finding out Your sinful enemy, you should uproot him alone." (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.21)

018816When Sita first went missing in the Dandaka forest, Rama contemplated destroying the entire world as retaliation. Lakshmana, speaking wisdom that was previously given to him by Rama, counseled his elder brother that such retaliation wasn’t proper. The time and place weren’t right.

All Vedic rituals respect these two important factors. Though Rama gives so much respect to it, He is capable of transcending it. The same goes for the process of connecting with Him. There is dharma that comes from shastra, or scripture. This is the step-by-step way to purify consciousness, gradually ascending the three modes of nature to reach a point of enlightenment.

IMG_133817Then there is bhakti-yoga, which is the direct process. Prescribed duties in dharma may be affected by time and place, but bhakti-yoga is universal. It can be practiced anywhere and at any time. In this day and age, it is difficult to find a time and a place where the prescribed duties in dharma can be executed properly. The highly potent practices in bhakti-yoga can be put into place anywhere, however. The most effective activity is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Like the Supreme Lord Himself, these holy names have the ability to transcend any restrictions imposed by the material world.

In Closing:

Rituals by time and place closed,

Restrictions of material world imposed.


If success in venture to expect,

Then these two things must respect.


With Shri Rama not the case,

By His will boundaries erased.


For devotion to Him same applying,

Bhakti at any time worth trying.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Apportioning Power

IMG_136711[4]“He is devoted to the truth and righteousness. He is glorious and seeks the kind treatment and favor of the people. He is cognizant of time and place, and speaks dearly to the entire world.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.21)

satya dharma paraḥ śrīmān samgraha anugrahe rataḥ |
deśa kāla vibhāgajñaḥ sarva loka priyam vadaḥ ||

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Religion and politics. The recommendation is to avoid these two subjects in casual conversation, especially if you are amongst people you don’t know too well. Even with your close friends, the subjects can be the cause of immediate disagreement. People hold strong views, after all, and whatever opinion you utter, it is bound to clash with someone else’s. A famous celebrity has a high favorability rating, but as soon as they declare allegiance to a particular political party, they lose almost half of their support. Even a relatively benign statement like, “I enjoy eating pizza,” can invite scorn and ridicule.

When discussing politics especially, a good way to contribute to the conversation and avoid argument is to criticize across the board. Point out how most politicians are only in it for themselves. They don’t care about the welfare of the people. They are beholden to the special interests, the people who fronted the money for their campaign. Once in office, the politicians have to repay the favors done for them. They have to make good on the promises to their campaign contributors.

Truth and virtue are of secondary importance in this system. As an example, the country has laws. One section of those laws pertains to borders, namely in identifying where they are and who can enter and when. Due to many years of neglect, people have been entering the country illegally through a particular section of the border. Based on common sense, the action is illegal. Indeed, the people entering the country this way are identified with that exact term.

The job of the people in power is rather straightforward here. Enforce the law. It is not unfairly discriminating to enforce the laws of the country. Yet so many politicians ignore the transgression. They turn away from truth and virtue due to special interests. There is a powerful group that lobbies in favor of the illegal activity to continue. They promise many votes in the future election as a result of siding with them.

image6[4]The issue doesn’t have to be about borders. It can be about any aspect of administration, and the same defects will be there. This flaw is inherent to the system of democracy. To complain that politicians are liars, cheats and thieves is akin to bemoaning how the players in professional basketball are tall or the players on the soccer field fleet afoot. The system is so built that anyone has the power to amass popular support, even if they are not righteous themselves.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman describes a person who is ideal for leading and protecting the people. Hanuman says that this person is dedicated to the truth and virtue, satya and dharma. A leader has to be truthful. You can’t depend on someone if they are not honest. Honesty is at the foundation of civilized society. If I put a letter in the mailbox, I expect the postman to be honest and deliver to the address listed. If they are not honest, then what is the point in sending a letter?

Truthfulness is one aspect to virtue. Dharma is all-encompassing. It is doing the right thing, even if what is right is not popular. The person Hanuman describes once voluntarily left His kingdom for fourteen years. This was to preserve the honesty of the father, who was the king at the time. This person protected innocent sages in the forest from foreign attackers, who used deadly force and unfair fighting means. This person carries His weapons with Him, even though His wife was concerned that the presence of bows and arrows might be the catalyst for conflict that went against dharma.

Hanuman says that this person is shriman, or glorious. Shri is opulence, and this person has it in great supply. He is married to the goddess of fortune, in fact. He seeks the kind treatment of the people, samgraha. Another meaning to this word is accumulation or collecting. This person is always looking out for the people by making sure there is enough to support their protection. He does not squander what is in the treasury for His own benefit. As He proved many times, He can live the most renounced life if the situation called for it. He is not in the occupation of leader for the perks.

This person also seeks the favor of the people. He sacrifices everything for them. If necessary, He would give up His life to save so many. The crooked politician sacrifices so many lives for his own pleasure. This person is the opposite in nature. He is the ideal ruler in every way.

The person of whom Hanuman speaks is Shri Rama. He is the husband of Sita, the recipient of these accurate and beautiful words. Sita is Lakshmi Devi, the person who resides eternally in the spiritual realm with her husband Narayana. Rama is that Narayana, and so He is non-different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It makes sense, then, that when God descends to the earthly realm and chooses the role of administrator, He sets the example for everyone to follow. He is the best person to protect the citizens of Ayodhya.

sarva-dharmān parityajya

mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja

ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo

mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)

IMG_136721[4]Extending beyond a single area, Rama plays the same role for the entire population. In His form of Shri Krishna He is truthful when He says that surrendering unto Him will protect a person from all sinful reaction. He is always virtuous, since He is the object of dharma itself. He has endless opulence to share with His devotees, and whatever advice He provides is for their ultimate benefit. The wise, therefore, always stay with God the person, thinking of Him and serving Him as their life’s mission.

In Closing:

For successful this life to make,

To service and surrender take.


To Rama, of others always thinking who,

Protection and considering their welfare too.


Like politicians with interests not,

Who no concept of virtue have got.


The truth, in right way administering,

Bhaktas from sinful reaction delivering.