Friday, May 26, 2017

Soldiers Beyond Count

[akshauhini]“I trust that out of brotherly affection Bharata will send a terrific army of one akshauhini, with banners and protected by ministers, for my sake.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.24)

kaccit akṣāuhiṇīm bhīmām bharato bhrātṛ vatsalaḥ |
dhvajinīm mantribhiḥ guptām preṣayiṣyati mat kṛte ||

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“If you can’t experience it with the senses, then you know it isn’t real. I can tell you about my dream last night. It felt like truth to me. I try my best to explain it to you, but unless it can be seen you’ll never have faith. It’s the same way with the Divine. That’s how I know He doesn’t exist. There is no way to see Him.”

This is one argument against the existence of an Almighty being, a person who is beyond birth and death, happiness and sadness, heat and cold, and other conditions in duality. He would have to be free of ignorance, never in need of knowledge. Indeed, in the Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Lord is described to be jneyam, or the knowable. He is the object of knowledge.

“He is the source of light in all luminous objects. He is beyond the darkness of matter and is unmanifested. He is knowledge, He is the object of knowledge, and He is the goal of knowledge. He is situated in everyone's heart.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.18)

The wise know that He can be experienced through the senses. Evidence of His existence is everywhere. The very presence of life is due to Him. Not a blade of grass moves without His sanction. You can’t have a something unless you have the presence of the Divine. Through His feature of the Supersoul He is spread everywhere. Though He appears to be divided in this way, He retains His singular identity; something which we can’t replicate.

“Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes and faces, and He hears everything. In this way the Supersoul exists.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.14)

There is another issue to consider. Sight alone doesn’t guarantee acceptance or belief. A wonderful example is Ravana, the king of Lanka from an ancient time period. The Divine was roaming this world in the flesh, in a seemingly human form. The name was Rama, which describes how God possesses all transcendental pleasure.

Ravana heard of Rama through associates sent to the forest of Dandaka. The news wasn’t good. Ravana’s fourteen thousand men, acting like an army, were routed by Rama, who acted alone. You would have to see it to believe it, and one of Ravana’s men was an eyewitness. He described to Ravana what happened.

“Neither the demigods nor any exalted personalities were there helping Rama, for He acted alone. You should not entertain any doubt on this matter. Indeed, Rama shot feathered arrows, plated with gold, which turned into five-headed serpents that devoured all the Rakshasas. The Rakshasas were oppressed with fear, and wherever they went and wherever they turned, they saw Rama in front of them. In this way, O spotless one, have your Rakshasas been destroyed in the forest of Janasthana by Rama.” (Akampana speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 31.18-19)

[Shri Rama]Even if you don’t believe in God, that single feat is enough to make you realize that Rama is not an ordinary person. Still, Ravana figured Rama just had some amazing fighting ability and nothing else. After all, Rama had voluntarily renounced the kingdom of Ayodhya instead of fighting for it. Ravana could not fathom doing the same; he would fight his own family for power if he had to.

Ravana decided to steal away Rama’s wife Sita in secret. He figured he would be safe taking her back to the island of Lanka. Rama can fight with the bow and arrow, but how would He reach that distant island? The potential battle would be on Ravana’s turf, and there would be people on guard to protect against any sneak attack.

Those with the asura-like mentality, being against God at their core, will always underestimate the Divine. Though He may not show it in a single visual, there is unlimited potency. Rama can fight against millions of soldiers by Himself if needed. He also has soldiers beyond count supporting Him.

Sita Devi makes reference to this in the verse quoted above from the Ramayana. She is speaking to Hanuman, a messenger sent to her from Rama. He has secretly infiltrated Lanka and reached Sita in the Ashoka grove. Sita says that she trusts Rama’s younger brother Bharata will send an akshauhini to rescue her.

“The word akshauhini refers to a military phalanx consisting of 21,870 chariots and elephants, 109,350 infantry soldiers and 65,610 horses.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.15.30 Purport)

[akshauhini]This is essentially a military phalanx consisting of thousands of soldiers, chariots, elephants and horses. Sita is saying that Rama has a brother who loves Him so much that he will launch formal battle against Ravana. War will commence.

Bharata was in charge of the kingdom at the time, and surely he would have done as Sita describes. Rama wouldn’t allow it, however. The Lord went to the forest on the stipulation that He would not have any ties to the kingdom for fourteen years.

There would still be an army marching to Lanka to rescue Sita. It would consist of monkeys and bears hurling rocks and trees. Again, who would believe that such an army could emerge victorious against ghoulish creatures who employ black magic? That is just a slight peek into the potency of the Divine. He can make heroes out of monkeys and losers out of the strongest fighters in the world. He uses His immeasurable personal power for the protection of the devotees, who invest all faith in Him.

In Closing:

Heroes of hurling rocks to take,

And losers of great fighters to make.

 

This potency of the Divine one,

Limit to His powers none.

 

Like Bharata with soldiers many,

Ready for Rama at moment any.

 

God having helpers beyond count,

Foolish opposition on Him to mount.