“Otherwise those two possess enough strength to overpower the demigods even, but still I think the reversal of my misfortune has yet to occur.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.14)
athavā śaktimantau tau surāṇām api nigrahe |
mama eva tu na duhkhānām asti manye viparyayaḥ ||
“A guilty conscience needs no accuser.” If a person does something that they know is wrong, outside accusation isn’t always necessary. Their guilt gets the best of them. There is regret. There is worry over future consequence. After all, if I get away with violating someone’s personal property, who am I to expect all of my possessions to remain intact? Does not someone else have the right to commit the same violation against me?
Along the same lines there is fear of the law. Without this fear, theft would be much more common. There is an acknowledged authority in the community that ensures the proper and fair execution of laws. Those who go against the rules understand there is a high probability of punishment.
In the larger scheme, the governing authorities of the material world are the celestials. Another word for them is “demigods,” which correlates nicely with the Sanskrit word deva, which just means “god.” There are many devas, and so the supreme deity referenced by the capitalized form of “god” does not apply. Demigod is a more accurate translation since the celestials are always subordinate to the topmost person, Purushottama. On the occasion of Rama Navami we remember that topmost person and His capacity to act as the law personified.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana another similar word is used: sura. Since the beginning of time good and evil have collided. Everyone should be happy. Everyone should be at peace. There is no reason to kill people just for the right to live on a piece of land. There is plenty of land to go around. There is no question of overpopulation, as so much of the earth’s habitable space is at present not populated.
Conflicts exist because not everyone is a nice person. Not everyone respects private property. Not everyone is kind and nonviolent. Sura means “demigods” and it also means “good guys.” Without the suras, the asuras would have majority influence. Asura is often translated as “demon,” and notice that it is simply a negation of the word that refers to a demigod.
In their foolishness the asuras think that the suras represent the limit of strength in opposition. In the case of Ravana, a Rakshasa with an asura-like mindset, there was domination over the suras. He rose to a prominent stature through the exercise of strength. He also broadcast his victories, which acted as a further deterrent to anyone who might challenge his authority.
Even the asuras who don’t believe in the existence of celestials take some sort of measurement of the opposition. One of the three sources of misery in material life is known as adhidaivika. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes - anything that gets classified as an “act of God.” The wise understand that there are personalities serving as the initial cause, but regardless, everyone understands to some degree that there is some governing force. The asuras hope that if the force can be overcome, there will be total domination.
From the statement of Sita Devi we understand that there are people above the demigods. In this case the ultimate authority is referred to as Rama and Lakshmana. They are brothers, sons to the king of Ayodhya. Their true identities are Supreme Lord and first expansion. The expansion is the number one servitor. Rama and Lakshmana are essentially one, just manifesting differently.
Sita says that the brothers have enough strength to overpower even the suras. The word used is shaktiman. The living entities are shakti, or energy. They dominate over the dull and lifeless matter, which is technically a different kind of energy. God’s unique position is that He is shaktiman, or the energetic. The two are similar, but one is always superior.
Since Rama is her husband and Lakshmana His brother, Sita wonders why her distress has not reversed course. The asura-like Ravana has been winning. He took her away in secret, and so why hasn’t Rama rescued her yet? She is aware of the ongoing attempt, as Rama’s messenger Hanuman has come to inform her of it.
Indeed, the pious have similar lamentations. If we are on the side of good, why isn’t our protector saving us? Why doesn’t He see that we need help? The explanation is that the rescue is already there. Simply the appropriate time has yet to arrive. In Sita’s case Ravana would be defeated eventually. She would be rescued and reunited with her husband. The two always remain together, the energy and the energetic. She is a different kind of energy, the pleasure potency.
This verse from the Ramayana also indirectly dissuades any interested person from looking to the demigods for help. The suras are engaged in combatting the evil forces in this world. They deserve respect, but above them is God Himself. The occasion of Rama Navami affords an opportunity to approach Him directly, honoring the day in the year that He first appeared in this world in the land of Ayodhya. Rama is the benefactor’s benefactor, and so He can easily grant anything to those who are devoted to Him in thought, word and deed.
Dedicated in thought, word and deed,
Rama giving to them anything indeed.
Chance for coming to His way,
Celebrating Rama Navami day.
Asuras on sinful life bent,
Unaware strength to the extent.
That Rama and Lakshmana possessing,
This truth Sita to Hanuman addressing.