Tuesday, May 30, 2017

When A Snake Gets Killed

[Shri Rama]“I trust that within a very short time I shall see Ravana along with his allies killed on the battlefield by the terrific weapons of Rama.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.27)

raudreṇa kaccit astreṇa rāmeṇa nihatam raṇe |
drakṣyāmi alpena kālena rāvaṇam sasuhṛj janam ||

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This verse from the Ramayana presents a potential contradiction. The speaker is known for her saintly character. She does not try to harm anyone. She is not after personal comforts, though everyone is entitled to want what is best for themselves. She lives dharma in following service to her husband. That dharma is also bhakti since it is love and devotion directed to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Yet we see that the princess of Videha is hoping for the day that Ravana and his allies are killed. She doesn’t want an ordinary death. Ravana deserves a special kind of justice, commensurate with his horrible deeds. He used trickery to steal Sita away from the side of her husband.

It is understandable that kama would make someone behave in the wrong way. Shri Krishna says that kama, which can be translated as “lust,” is the all-devouring enemy of this world. It makes a person do something they typically know to be wrong. It is almost as if they have no control; lust combines with wrath to act as a puppet master.

“The Blessed Lord said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.” (Bhagavad-gita, 3.37)

Still, even after Ravana’s major lapse in judgment there was opportunity for clemency. Moreover, Sita declined his advances. “No thanks,” was essentially her response. She did not want to be the chief queen in Lanka. There were many beautiful queens already. Why wasn’t Ravana satisfied? He should just let her go. That is the meaning of love, after all, to do what will bring happiness to the object of affection.

A saintly character does not wish harm on anyone. This is a byproduct of their intelligence. They understand that every living entity in this world is struggling. Originally, the living beings are part and parcel of God, His amshas. When they come in contact with material life, they have a difficult time. The conduit for the troubles is the six senses, which include the mind.

“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.7)

A saint tolerates. They are known to be forgiving. At the same time, this doesn’t mean they are naïve. I know that a tiger is really an individual spirit soul temporarily residing in a body composed mostly of the mode of ignorance. The tiger follows its nature. It can’t be blamed for killing. Still, to treat the tiger as you would a human being is silly.

As Prahlada Maharaja notes, a saintly person takes pleasure in the killing of a scorpion or a snake. Death is merely the changing of bodies, with the individual soul leaving for a different residence. The death of a snake means less trouble for others in the interim.

“My Lord Narasimhadeva, please, therefore, cease Your anger now that my father, the great demon Hiranyakashipu, has been killed. Since even saintly persons take pleasure in the killing of a scorpion or a snake, all the worlds have achieved great satisfaction because of the death of this demon. Now they are confident of their happiness, and they will always remember Your auspicious incarnation in order to be free from fear.” (Prahlada Maharaja, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.9.14)

Prahlada made the comparison to describe how no one was sad to see the death of his father, the evil King Hiranyakashipu. In the same way, the world would achieve satisfaction at the death of Ravana. Sita hoped that it would come on the battlefield against her husband, Shri Rama.

Sita wanted this style of punishment since it would glorify her husband. He would earn further acclaim by shooting amazing weapons to do away with the most feared fighters in the world. Such a feat is not necessary since Rama is already the greatest subduing force when acting as time, or kala. Time has yet to be defeated.

[Shri Rama]It is important for justice to be delivered appropriately and at the right time. This enables the innocent to live peacefully, to continue in their progress towards enlightenment. The benefit of Rama’s slaying of Ravana is that countless future generations would gain further trust in and appreciation for the ability of the Divine, who always comes through for those who are devoted to Him.

In Closing:

Coming through when devoted to Him,

To rid world of Ravana and his sin.

 

Saints getting peace of mind,

When arrival at proper time.

 

Of punishment for the deserved,

Sita hoping that by husband served.

 

With arrows snake-like demons rooting out,

Devotion progressing when impediments without.