“Thus having spoken those words of great meaning and sweet purpose to the best of Vanaras, Sita Devi became silent, so as to hear his pleasant words connected to the purpose of Rama.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.31)
iti iva devī vacanam mahāartham |
tam vānara indram madhura artham uktvā |
śrotum punaḥ tasya vaco abhirāmam |
rāma artha yuktam virarāma rāmā ||
The art of persuasion. How do you get what you want from someone, meeting a personal interest, without them knowing your true intentions? After all, to get something you have to give something. The other side may not be willing to part with what you want.
There are different tactics. One is to threaten. If the other side doesn’t give in, then everything will be ruined. They won’t benefit and you’ll just move on to someone else. In the open you say that you don’t need them, when in truth you do.
Another tactic is flattery. Speak sweetly. Raise the positive aspects of the other person. Tell them how skilled you think they are. Of course, there is dishonesty in this path. You are only speaking this way to get what you want.
The devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead have the amazing ability to speak words that are both sweet and meaningful. The truth sometimes hurts. If I tell someone that they are going to die, they may not like it. I might quote from the Bhagavad-gita, where it is stated that the consciousness at the time of death determines the next type of body.
“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)
Another body means another birth. Another birth means again enduring the dualities of aversion and attachment, cold and heat, sadness and happiness. The experience is in illusion, and again the consciousness will be measured when quitting the body to determine the next destination.
“O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.27)
How do I get these points across without offending others? Basically, I am saying that everyone, including myself, is born into delusion. The dualities overcome us and the only way out is to surrender to the Supreme Lord. This is God the person; more than an abstract or theoretical concept.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana the subject matter is God Himself, in His beautiful incarnation of Shri Rama. Sita, who is a devi, or goddess-like, has just uttered words that are appropriate to the situation and also sweet. The words certainly belied the situation. Sita was in Lanka against her will, threatened by the king to give in to his advances or be killed.
Her words were to a stranger. She just met Hanuman, who is described here as the best of the Vanaras, which are living entities in monkey-like bodies. She spoke sweetly because the subject matter was Rama, who is the reservoir of all pleasure. Not just ordinary pleasure, either - transcendental. This makes sense. God must be all-attractive. That is the meaning to the name Krishna, who is also a person. He is the same Rama, God, appearing on earth at a different time and giving a different visual.
Only when a person is connected to devotional service can they speak truthfully and sweetly at the same time. Another instance was with King Prithu. He addressed the four Kumaras, who are travelling devotees in the form of celibate youths. They appreciated the questions the king raised one time.
“The great sage Maitreya continued: Thus Sanat-kumara, the best of the celibates, after hearing the speech of Prithu Maharaja, which was meaningful, appropriate, full of precise words and very sweet to hear, smiled with full satisfaction and began to speak as follows.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.22.17)
After speaking Sita became silent, ready to hear what Hanuman’s response was going to be. While Sita’s words are described to be sweet, madhura, Hanuman’s speech is said to be abhirama, which means pleasant. After all, the living entities have been waiting to hear such news for the longest time. Any information directly pertaining to the Supreme Lord’s activities is soothing to the ear.
In this situation Hanuman has words specifically about Rama’s purpose, or artha. The Supreme Lord is ready to rescue Sita. He is making the necessary preparations. Sita will soon be reunited with the one who is eternally by her side. She is the feminine aspect of the Divine, and He the masculine. Together they are essentially one. Since Hanuman has no other business besides devotional service, his words continue to remain abhirama.
To persuade person having their ear,
Threaten or give what wanting to hear?
Art with tactics contradicting,
No guarantee of outcome predicting.
Only devotees speaking truthful and sweet,
Like Sita when first time Hanuman to meet.
He too wonderful news from mouth emitting,
Of husband Rama towards rescue committing.