Saturday, May 6, 2017

Four Qualities That Can Be Understood Simply From Hanuman’s Deeds

[Hanuman with Rama and Lakshmana]“O Saumitra, subduer of all enemies, welcome with pleasant words this monkey, who is a counselor of Sugriva and a knower of speech who uses words which are sweet, affectionate, and just befitting the situation.” (Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.27)

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The journey through life - those who are far along know just how difficult things can get. They don’t want to see the people newly arriving to face the same struggles. Better to get a jump start. Learn the pitfalls right away. Why experience them personally, when the end result is guaranteed?

But how to get that instruction across? The youth are naturally rebellious, not wanting to trust the older generation. That is the reason for the saying, “Youth is wasted on the young.” There is more vitality, more energy, but also more naivety.

Fortunately, so many important qualities can be learned from a single person. He is a historical figure whose deeds are prominently featured in an ancient Sanskrit text known as the Ramayana. This person provides a living example of these qualities, revealing their true meaning. Knowledge is power, and from Hanuman comes tremendous knowledge.

1. Eloquence

Like it or not people are judged by the way they speak. Presentation is important. The leader of a country could be doing a great job of protecting life and property. They could be impartial in the prosecution of the law. But if they have a difficult time speaking in public, people will think they are less intelligent. It is sad to say, but the people would prefer a well-spoken cheater and thief over an honest person to lead them.

Eloquence is the ability to speak well, to convey thoughts in a pleasing and effective manner. Hanuman is the embodiment of eloquence, and proof is there in the first meeting with Shri Rama. The king of the Vanaras in Kishkindha asked his chief minister to descend Mount Rishyamukha and greet two strangers. The minister was Hanuman and the strangers Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana.

Hanuman’s task was to find out the purpose of their visit to the forest, as usually human beings weren’t found in the area. Yet Rama and Lakshmana are of a Divine nature. They are God the person and God the servant, respectively. This was not lost on Hanuman, as he went into praise shortly after greeting them.

[Hanuman with Rama and Lakshmana]Rama Himself was impressed by Hanuman’s speech. The language was Sanskrit and the speaker was in the body of a Vanara, which is like a monkey. From Hanuman we learn that true eloquence is the ability to praise the Supreme Lord. Excellent speech at the level of Hanuman is not required; sincerity is what matters most. Though Hanuman originally took on a false guise, the sincerity in his heart was detected by Rama.

2. Sacrifice

“I would not be where I am today without my parents.” So many people have said this. It is an indication of wisdom. A grateful person appreciates what others have done for them. They do not take things for granted. They do not expect others to make up for their irresponsibility.

I appreciate others for the sacrifices they have made. They gave up something important to them in order to benefit someone else. In Hanuman we find the embodiment of sacrifice. He risked his life for Rama. He travelled to a foreign land, populated by people hostile to him and his cause, and continued forth. He did this all for someone he barely knew. After the initial meeting with Rama and Lakshmana, Hanuman thought that Rama and Sugriva would develop a friendship.

That indeed occurred, and so later Hanuman and many other Vanaras were dispatched to search for Rama’s missing wife Sita. In the end it was Hanuman searching alone, through the land of Lanka, populated by Rakshasas, which are ogre-like creatures of the sinful persuasion. Hanuman gave up every personal comfort in order to serve the Supreme Lord.

3. Perseverance

Good things come to those who wait. Slow and steady wins the race. Perseverance is important, especially since results don’t manifest right away. When you plant the seed you don’t demand the resulting plant emerge immediately. There is proper time and place.

Hanuman is the embodiment of perseverance because he continued on despite major obstacles against him. The number one opposing force was time. He kept searching, but to no luck. Then he worried about letting everyone down, including Rama.

When everything is going against you, how will you respond? Will you continue on in the struggle or give up? From Hanuman we see that the real meaning of perseverance is to move forward in the service of the Lord. Rama rewards the devotee who makes even the slightest effort in trying to please Him. Imagine, then, the reward awaiting the person who doesn’t quit.

4. Humility

This is one of the more difficult qualities to acquire. It is beneficial since it represents knowledge. An ignorant person thinks that everything they possess is due to personal effort alone. They forget the cooperation of external forces necessary to their success. They don’t remember the help they got along the way.

Even if a person becomes humble, there is risk of becoming proud of how humble they have become. Shri Hanuman is the embodiment of humility. One proof is the fact that he has so much. Vedic culture has passed down to us the ancient practice of mysticism, commonly known as yoga. Real yoga has strict requirements and is difficult to practice.

The fruit of mystic yoga practice is siddhi. The best English translation is “perfection.” A siddhi is a kind of amazing ability. You can become very small. You can become very large. You can get any object you want simply by contemplating it. You can travel outside of the physical body.

Hanuman possesses all the siddhis of yoga. He received them without asking for them. At the same time, he has no attachment to them. He is not even consciously aware of them. It is not like he walks around remembering how he can change his shape at will.

Hanuman uses whatever abilities he has for pleasing Rama. His humility is at the highest level due precisely to the fact that he has the most over which to be proud. He has done amazing things for Rama. He is one of the most well-liked heroes of all-time. Still, when his brother Bhima one time asked to see the amazingly large form that was used to cross the ocean to reach Lanka, Hanuman was reluctant to show. He made up an excuse about the effects of Kali Yuga and how it was no longer possible to transform his body. Only after being further pressed by Bhima did Hanuman finally relent. From his humility he doesn’t consider that form to be so amazing.

In Closing:

To again show form through Rama tasked,

By brother Bhima sincerely asked.


Excuse about Kali’s effects made,

Finally at the end displayed.


Though Hanuman possessing so much,

Arrogance or pride not in him a touch.


Sacrifice for Rama, in praising eloquence,

Never to give up, living perseverance.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Acharya Upasanam

[Lord Krishna]“As for acceptance of the spiritual master, that is essential, because without the instruction of a bona fide spiritual master, one cannot progress in the spiritual science. One should approach the spiritual master with all humility and offer him all services so that he will be pleased to bestow his blessings upon the disciple.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 13.8-12 Purport)

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Friend1: One of the more interesting verses in the Bhagavad-gita is the explanation of what is knowledge.

Friend2: You mean where the many qualities and practices are listed?

Friend1: Exactly.

Friend2: Technically, it’s a series of verses, but I know what you meant.

Friend1: Oh, you’re right. In the translation that I read, the verses are combined. It’s interesting because you wouldn’t typically equate nonviolence, simplicity, and tolerance with knowledge.

Friend2: They are indications. Knowledge isn’t just giving the correct answer on a test. If you think about it, a computer could be Jeopardy champion. It could get every answer right and win so much money, but that doesn’t mean the computer has knowledge.

Friend1: Alright, I like where this discussion has turned. So even though the computer is never wrong in this case, you’re saying it is not in knowledge?

Friend2: Absolutely. No reservations in making that claim. What if you had the most important questions of life? Is the computer going to answer for you?

Friend1: It depends. If it is programmed to accept input, then I don’t see what the issue would be.

Friend2: It doesn’t have simplicity. It doesn’t have tolerance. It is not even a person. It just spits out answers based on input, where the input has to match with something within the knowledgebase.

Friend1: So you’re saying a person in knowledge should be able to help with the highest questions a person has?

Friend2: That’s in the series of verses we’re discussing. One of the items listed is “approaching a bona fide spiritual master.”

Friend1: Okay, I’m glad we got to this. I don’t mean to make an offense here. Please don’t take it that way.

Friend2: Go for it.

[Shrila Prabhupada]Friend1: Alright, but isn’t that point a little self-serving? You have His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translating the Bhagavad-gita, and one of the verses conveniently mentions the importance of approaching a spiritual master. Basically, he’s using the book to justify people coming to him. It’s a tactic similar to what sales people use. “Buy my product or else.”

Friend2: I see how it can come off that way, but just study the Sanskrit. The words are acharya upasanam. Acharya is the spiritual teacher who leads by example. Upasanam means “coming closer.” It also means “serving.” The words of Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are quite clear. It would be the greatest conspiracy of all-time for Him to have set this up intentionally five thousand years ago, to increase Prabhupada’s disciple count.

Friend1: A person in knowledge thus approaches an acharya?

Friend2: Definitely. Otherwise they will forever remain in the dark about their true identity. When you see the importance of the spiritual master stressed so often, it particularly relates to knowledge of higher things. We’ll never understand God through mental speculation alone. We’ll never be able to reconcile the many contradictions in life. Heat and cold, birth and death, happiness and sadness, kindness and hatred. Why do some people feel the need to kill other people who are innocent? Why is it that people who have everything available to them are still unhappy?

Friend1: And the acharya gives you knowledge?

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: Approaching an acharya is one indication of knowledge. The teacher leading by example helps to bring about the many other qualities listed. The most important quality is devotion to God the person. A devotee is automatically the most knowledgeable. Vedanta is the conclusion of conclusions, the end of knowledge. Nothing is higher than Shri Krishna.

In Closing:

One towards acharya to go,

To escape from darkness so.


These qualities and more stated,

In Gita verses to knowledge equated.


For guru self-serving not,

Since most humility he’s got.


Understanding himself for teacher’s need,

To disciple highest wisdom indeed.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Creating And Destroying

[Shri Rama]“If all is well with Kakutstha [Rama], in anger why is He not burning the earth bound by the oceans, like the rising fire of dissolution?” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.13)

kuśalī yadi kākutsthaḥ kim nu sāgara mekhalām |
mahīm dahati kopena yuga anta agniḥ iva utthitaḥ ||

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What should be taught? Creationism or evolution? The debate rages on precisely because of the vast complexity of the world in which we live. That complexity is there in the present snapshot, and not to mention in everything that has already happened.

We know there is a beginning to everything. That is the nature of time. I am a certain number of years old today, but at some point in the past I wasn’t even born. I came from somewhere. The same applies to other people. As well with the trees, the oceans, the mountains - the entire earth itself.

What is the original source from which this amazing creation manifested? Was there just a single cell that then evolved over billions of years? If so, what gave that cell so much power? Why can’t the same kind of cell do the same thing elsewhere? My body is a collection of many cells. Why can’t I create a gigantic universe, populate it with creatures, and embed within the nature intelligence beyond comprehension?

[evolution]The creationist’s argument is that there is intelligent design. That design comes from the most intelligent person. The most intelligent never falls into ignorance. The very definition of ignorance is forgetfulness of Him. He is full bliss and knowledge, and eternal in His existence. Indeed, one way to define Him is to say that He is ananta and anadi, unlimited and without beginning.

Creating is just one side of things, however. The amazing world is evidence of God’s creative potency, but there is destruction to consider as well. What goes up must come down. This applies to the cycle of birth and death. As Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, whenever there is birth, death must eventually follow.

“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)

Just as wonderful as His ability to create is the potential within the Supreme Lord to destroy everything that Has manifested. Typically, the destruction happens without much effort. The agent of change is kala. This Sanskrit word means “time,” but it is also synonymous with “death.” Time heals all wounds because time eventually destroys everything.

Kala, which is non-different from God, brings a level of devastation so great that nothing remains. This occurs at the end of a yuga, which is a cycle of many creations and destructions. A single yuga is billions and billions of years.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Sita Devi makes reference to this potency possessed by God. She is referring to her husband Rama, who is also known as Kakutstha. Sita is wondering aloud as to why Rama hasn’t destroyed the entire world, rising in anger like the fire of dissolution.

The exact words used are yuga anta agni. This means “fire at the end of the yuga.” Being from a cultured family, Sita knows that God is responsible for both creation and destruction, and that the destruction takes place through an amazing fire. That fire arrives at the appropriate time, namely at anta, or the end, of the yuga.

Rama should be in anger, as His wife has been taken away from Him in secret. Sita now knows that Rama is thinking about her. The messenger Hanuman has told her. If Rama knows what has happened to His dedicated wife and friend, why is He not using His full potency to redress the situation?

Everything occurs in due course of time. Sita Devi is actually the goddess of fortune, who is always by God’s side, wherever He may go. In the spiritual world she is with God in the form of Vishnu. She is Lakshmi Devi. When Vishnu descends as Rama, Lakshmi descends as Sita.

[Shri Rama]Therefore it is not surprising that Sita would know her husband so well. Her rhetorical question provides some comfort, for it reminds us that God can remove any obstacle from our path. If He can destroy the entire creation, He can certainly swat away the unwanted things impeding our progress in devotional service. That destruction comes in many forms, and the patient devotee receives that mercy at the appropriate time, as all the while they continue to chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

From where all this has come,

From a single cell of intelligence none?


Or from a person with creativity the most,

And of other great qualities a host?


From Sita about Rama to Hanuman stating,

That destruction coupled with creating.


For Supreme Lord no effort required at all,

Can help those who daily His name call.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Four People To Whom Krishna Offered Respect

[Krishna welcoming Sudama]“When Lord Shri Krishna was in Dvaraka, He offered His respects by bowing down at the lotus feet of Narada. When Sudama Vipra came to His house, Lord Krishna personally washed his feet and gave him a seat on His personal bed. Although He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Shri Krishna offered His respects to Maharaja Yudhishthira and Kunti. The Lord's exemplary behavior is to teach us.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.21.38)

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The experts give the warning, “Don’t try this at home.” The statement is necessary since the good ones make it look easy. They can do extraordinary things, while the visual shows practically no effort. If this is true of experts of the material world, imagine the scale with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

In His descent to this world as Krishna, God once devoured an entire forest fire. The flames went into His mouth without a problem. This saved the friends, family, and members of the community of Vrindavana from burning to death.

He also once lifted a massive hill and held it on His finger for seven straight days. Again, this was to provide protection. The residents were surrendered at His lotus feet in thought and word. The surrender was shown in deed as well through relying on Krishna to keep them safe from the heavy downpour of Biblical proportions that suddenly befell them.

Krishna also danced with many beautiful cowherd girls simultaneously. They were at the highest level of surrender, and for God there is no issue in accepting an unlimited number of devotees. Each gopi wanted to dance with Him alone, so Krishna used His amazing ability to meet their desires.

No mortal should try to imitate these feats. Even the great god, Lord Shiva, should not be imitated in his holding poison in the throat. Still, there are many exemplary pastimes of Krishna that do set a wonderful path to follow. One category of note is respect.

1. Narada Muni

As mentioned, Shri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the wonderful, insightful and wholly accurate translation to the Sanskrit term “Bhagavan,” given by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Each term in the translation is significant and necessary. Many cheating scholars and pretend gurus try to say that God is formless, that everyone is God, or that every spark of spirit can one day merge into the Supreme.

The truth is that the living beings are sparks of the spiritual energy, identical to Bhagavan in quality but different in quantitative ability. The ideal relationship, which should exist eternally, is that of servant-master. The sparks should serve the original source. Then everyone is happy.

To that end respect of authority figures is important. Shri Krishna taught this by giving respect to Narada Muni. The world traveler spreading the glories of Hari, which is another name for God, Narada once visited Krishna in the city of Dvaraka. Krishna was presiding as king; hence one of His names being Dvarakadisha.

Narada is a servant of Krishna. He is a spiritual master, or guru. He teaches so many people the real meaning to dharma, which often gets translated as “religion.” Narada should be respected by everyone. Anyone descending in the line of instruction from Narada should get the same respect. The guru is not God, but they are God’s representative. Even the Supreme Lord offers them respect.

2. Sudama Vipra

Another name for Krishna is Brahmanya-devaya. He is the deva, or deity, of the brahmanas, which is like the priestly order. Brahmanas are part of the four general occupations laid out for man. The divisions are determined by guna, or quality, and karma, or work.

“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.13)

Among those divisions, the brahmanas are most dear to the Supreme Lord. This is because they can give instruction to all types of people. They assess the students to determine the proper knowledge to be revealed and at which time. The ultimate goal is always the same: go back home, back to Godhead. Any person, from any class, can achieve that goal, but sometimes a gradual approach is necessary.

Due to the nature of their work, brahmanas are often poor. One time Sudama Vipra visited Krishna in Dvaraka. The Supreme Lord was so honored by the visit that He washed Sudama’s feet. The water was then sprinkled on the head of Krishna and His chief queen, Rukmini.

[Krishna welcoming Sudama]To the uncultured, such an act is repulsive. The feet are generally dirty, after all. And what makes a person so special that they deserve this kind of treatment? The idea is that if a true brahmana is respected, then everything good comes as a result. Shri Krishna showed the way in treating respectable personalities.

3. Yudhishthira Maharaja

People within Hindu or Vedic culture are familiar with the practice of touching feet. If your grandparents come to the house, the initial greeting is not a hug or a kiss. Touch their feet. The same goes for aunts and uncles. Touch the feet when greeting and do the same when departing.

Shri Krishna appeared in a family, and so the same designations were there. Krishna had parents, aunts, uncles, and even cousins. Yudhishthira was the eldest of the five Pandava brothers. These were Krishna’s cousins. Since Yudhishthira was a little older, Krishna would offer respect to him.

Yudhishthira is dharma-personified. The objective of dharma is service to Krishna. And the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not beholden to anyone. Still, Yudhishthira was both an elder cousin and a king, so Krishna showed respect to set the proper example for others.

4. Kunti Devi

The mother of the Pandava brothers went through so much. She suffered the loss of her husband. She witnessed the torture her sons were subject to. None of this was deserved. She had done nothing wrong. She was a very chaste lady, and also dedicated to the Supreme Lord.

Krishna showed her respect as well. Kunti offered amazing prayers to Krishna, which are passed on in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. She set the best example on how to respect God, and yet God always offered her respect.

The example set by Krishna is for our benefit, after all. The little things add up to something much bigger. Something as basic as showing respect can take a person a long way towards fulfilling the ultimate objective of a human existence.

In Closing:

Bound by work are me and you,

But for Krishna nothing to do.


To the Supreme Lord one meaning,

Abilities that others of only dreaming.


Still respecting setting example for,

Like water on Sudama’s feet to pour.


To Narada and Arjuna’s elder brother,

And Kunti too, the devoted mother.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Three Categories Of Standards With Different Situational Outcomes

[Krishna's lotus feet]“If one does not accept the authority of the Supreme Godhead in matters of religion and morality, one must explain why two persons of the same moral standard achieve different results. It is generally found that even if two men have the same moral standards of ethics, honesty and morality, their positions are still not the same. Similarly, in economic development it is seen that if two men work very hard day and night, still the results are not the same.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.21.30 Purport)

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It’s the basis for a diagnosis. It’s the way of ruling out alternate explanations for a particular result. Control the environment. With all things being equal, what is the influence of an independent variable? What happens when it is present, and what happens when it is absent?

An example is with medication. A patient is suffering from short term memory loss. The negative turn has happened recently. They are on a host of prescription medications, some of them prescribed recently.

One option for the doctor is to try eliminating a specific medication and noticing the effect. The key is to make sure everything else remains equal; otherwise the results to the experiment may not be accurate. If there is a positive reaction it may be due to something else besides the absence of the medication. If there is no reaction, then the proper influence of the independent variable may not be known.

The same kind of analysis can be done to negate a very prevalent theory. This one has been around since the beginning of time, and it is adopted almost by default. This is because the human being is born into ignorance. The material world envelops the otherwise knowledgeable spirit soul in nescience. But using a little intelligence passed on by authority figures, combined with experience, this theory can be debunked for good.

1. Ethics

Some people are pious. They prefer to tell the truth. They are not willing to even pass an expired coupon at a store. They would rather not go through the trouble of lying. They have a certain standard of ethics.

Since the characteristic is the same, we can say that the conditions are somewhat controlled. Does this mean that the outcome is identical for each person in the group? Of course not. Some people of high morality run into a lot of trouble. If they speak out on this morality in a country that limits free speech, they may be imprisoned as a result. In another part of the world, the ethical person is a hero.

2. Honesty

This is a similar category, and for this we can analyze the opposite end. Take people that are dishonest. They try to cheat a business into giving out free stuff. They have no problem walking out of stores with items that haven’t been paid for. On a larger scale they will run business ventures that promise to make money but actually only benefit themselves.

We ask the same question. Do people of the same standard in honesty end up in the same position? The answer is obvious. Some dishonest people end up in jail, prosecuted for having violated the laws of the country. Others rise to the top, sometimes to even leader of the entire country. Punishment is not a concern since they make the laws and then later decide how they should be enforced.

3. Morality

For this we can analyze an entire community. They are generally moral. The crime rate is very low. People leave the doors unlocked at night. They are not worried about intruders. Everyone knows everyone. There are no secrets.

In this community is everyone the same? Are they all of the same occupation? Is the level of intelligence identical? Again, we see variety in outcomes. Despite a similar characteristic, the results are not the same.

The forgotten ingredient, of course, is the influence of a higher power. On the lower level of understanding, the higher power is nature itself. Nature consists of three modes: goodness, passion and ignorance. The individual, due to the influence of false ego, mistakenly attributes outcomes to his own doing instead of nature.

“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)

Nature is amazing and accounts for the different outcomes to people of the same features. In reality, though, those people are superior. Nature is an inferior energy coming from the highest power. The living entities are actually spiritual at the core, and spirit is superior to matter.

“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.5)

Nature works with karma to influence outcomes. To understand karma one has to know the influence of time. There are consequences to actions. Those consequences may not manifest right away. They don’t remain indefinitely, either.

“Unseen and indefinite are the good and bad reactions of fruitive work. And without taking action, the desired fruits of such work cannot manifest.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.17)

People of the same moral standard of ethics, honesty and the like see different situational outcomes because there have been so many actions in the past. Those actions combine with the modes of material nature and time to manifest results at different times. Moreover, there are so many actions continuously occurring, further influencing the future.

[Krishna's lotus feet]This complicated explanation is not necessary. The Supreme Lord is the ultimate authority figure. The thing to know is that we cannot influence everything on our own. Relatively speaking, we have very little power over the future. The one thing we can influence is residence, particularly in which land we reside. When there is consciousness of God measured at the time of death, there is residence in the spiritual realm. Otherwise, there is rebirth in the material land, a place where ignorance has a majority influence.

In Closing:

Spiritual life not taking a priority,

Since ignorance with influence majority.


By false ego thinking solely I do,

When forgetting nature and karma too.


People of same standards just see,

How not in identical situations to be.


Simple proof of higher authority making,

Turn to God from that knowledge taking.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Worrying About Others

[Rama and Lakshmana]“By good fortune all is well with Rama, who is pious-souled and true to His promise, and Lakshmana, the increaser of joy for Sumitra.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.12)

diṣṭyā ca kuśalī rāmo dharma ātmā dharma vatsalaḥ |
lakṣmaṇaḥ ca mahātejāḥ sumitra ānanda vardhanaḥ ||

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“Woe is me. Things aren’t going right. All the responsibility falls upon me. It’s because I am generally trustworthy. I am reliable. I get things done. This means that people are more apt to look to me to take care of important tasks. But after a while the burden becomes too much. I buckle under it. I’ve had enough. I don’t think anyone has it worse than me. There is no relief.”

This sort of lamentation is only natural. Man is not God, after all. To err is human, while the Divine is invincible. Since He never falls, one of His many names is Achyuta. Since He is never defeated in conflict, another name is Ajita. He is physically present everywhere, through the feature of the Supersoul. We can’t see this feature with our eyes, but that is our limitation, not God’s.

“That knowledge by which one undivided spiritual nature is seen in all existences, undivided in the divided, is knowledge in the mode of goodness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.20)

There is an undivided existence within the seemingly divided. This applies to the spiritual energy, of which the many living entities are fragments. The Supersoul is undivided as well, but of a different nature. The collective spiritual energy is Brahman, and each individual is a fragment of the whole. The Supersoul is just one person. It is seemingly spread out, but actually there is no division or loss of potency from the whole. With God, one minus one can equal one.

These facts make Sita Devi’s observations quoted above all the more amazing. She is glad that her husband is doing well. From the Ramayana and other Vedic texts we understand that Rama is non-different from God. He is a distinct individual who descends from the spiritual world; hence the word avatara to describe Him. He is the physical manifestation of the same Supersoul that is within the heart. The Supersoul is nirguna, or without perceptible features, whereas Rama and the personal incarnations are saguna, or perceivable by the eyes of the conditioned souls.

Sita says that Rama is dharma-atma. This means “pious soul.” Attention to dharma is always at the highest level in the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the embodiment of righteousness. He is the object of religion. In the Rama incarnation, the attention to dharma is more prominent, especially for dharma as a set of religious principles.

Rama is also true to His vow. He doesn’t make empty promises. He is the most reliable person. Evidence is all around us, with the most obvious indication the predictability of nature itself. We know that this year in July the average temperatures will be high in comparison to the month of January. We can count on it. God effortlessly creates nature and then embeds within it intelligence that others can study and make use of.

Sita is happy that Rama’s younger brother is well. Lakshmana is maha-teja, or highly splendorous. Lakshmana is also the enhancer of the delight of Sumitra, who is one of three queens in Ayodhya. Sumitra is Lakshmana’s mother, and Kausalya is Rama’s.

[Rama and Lakshmana]Sita Devi also stayed on the righteous path. She was so dedicated to her husband that she insisted on accompanying Him in a fourteen year stint in the forest, which was meant to be a form of punishment. It’s something like following your husband after he gets sentenced to jail, for a crime he didn’t commit.

What was the reward for that commitment? Sita was kidnapped in secret by the evil king of Lanka. Named Ravana, the ten-headed fiend took her back to his kingdom and pleaded to make her the chief queen. Sita refused, and so Ravana resorted to threats of violence to get her to change her mind.

The threats didn’t work, and in this situation Rama’s messenger named Hanuman has come to deliver her good news. He has brought Rama’s ring with him, also, as a token of affection. The ring also served as a form of authentication, a way for Sita to know that Hanuman was not some stranger of evil intent.

The princess of Videha would be justified in complaining. She would have the most to complain about. Instead, she is happy that her husband and her brother-in-law are okay. This is the nature of the devotee. They accept the suffering that comes in life. They understand that happiness and sadness come and go, like the winter and summer seasons.

“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)

Sita remains steady in her devotion, which she practices through the relationship of wife. Hanuman shows the same dedication in acting as servant. We living entities have God inside of us right now, but we ignore Him out of ignorance. The turn in the proper direction can come through something as simple as sound. Chant the holy names, be happy as a result, and better tolerate the struggles through material life, which are inevitable for any person who takes birth.

In Closing:

Pain and pleasure coming and departing,

Right from time of birth starting.


In so much of struggle right now,

To tolerate situations how?


Since Sita Devi of nature so kind,

Pleased that husband and brother fine.


From messenger Hanuman hearing,

Priceless lesson from Ramayana endearing.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Knower Of Ability

[Hanuman with Rama and Lakshmana]“The unconquerable Rama would not have sent an untried person to my presence specifically without knowing their powerful capability.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.11)

preṣayiṣyati durdharṣo rāmo na hi aparīkṣitam |
parākramam avijñāya mat sakāśam viśeṣataḥ ||

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Vidita-atmana. He is a knower of the self. This is a significant attribute. Unless taught, no person will ever know who they truly are. They may reach to the penumbra, getting close but not the actual understanding. They might discover that birth and death occur in cycles. They may understand that they maintain the same identity throughout the various phases of life. But through speculation alone they can’t come to the conclusion that the individual is spirit soul, part and parcel of God. Individual spirit is never killed.

Vishesha-jna. This is a knower of distinctions. Spirit soul is inside of a covering consisting of gross and subtle elements. Mind is finer than the elements of the gross body. Intelligence is finer than the mind, and ego is even finer than intelligence. The spirit soul is so subtle that it is finer than the ego. To know something fine in substance is not easy.

To know distinctions is also significant because distinctions are many. The gross elements are composed of three base ingredients: goodness, passion and ignorance. Put together in combinations and proportions, the result is 8,400,000 different species. A true knower of distinctions understands the attributes, tendencies and images of all of these varieties of body.

“The eldest son to that king was named Rama. He was very dear, had a face resembling the moon, was a knower of distinctions, and was the best among all wielders of the bow.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.6)

Shri Rama, the husband of Sita, is both vidita-atmana and vishesha-jna. The testimonies of Shri Hanuman and Sita Devi confirm this. The wife knows the husband well, as they spent so much time together. There is also the basic understanding of Rama’s high nature. Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is automatically all-knowing through His feature as the Supersoul, where He rests within the heart of every living being and acts as the overseer and permitter.

“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)

Rama is the Superself, so of course He knows the self. In His incarnation as a warrior prince, the Supreme Lord understands all the different species. He knows what their tendencies are. He knows their defects. He even knows where to find devotees, sometimes in unusual circumstances and places.

Case in point Shri Hanuman. The minister to the Vanara-king Sugriva, Hanuman was living in Kishkindha. If you are looking for a person, you normally don’t seek help from animals in the forest. Especially monkeys, who are not known for being civilized. They are renounced in the sense that they don’t live in a city and go to work, but they are still animals, driven by the senses.

Rama made friends with the Vanaras through meeting Hanuman. From hearing Hanuman speak, Rama could tell that he was something special. An immediate friendship formed. Later on Hanuman would be entrusted with a most difficult mission: finding Sita, who had gone missing after being by Rama’s side.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we can add another feature to Rama. He is a knower of ability. Though this is technically a derivative of the vishesha-jna feature, it is significant nonetheless. Sita understands that Rama is this way based on the trust He put in Hanuman. That dedicated servant has reached her and brought to her Rama’s ring.

[Hanuman with Rama and Lakshmana]Rama would not have trusted Hanuman with such an important task if He didn’t think there would be success. If Rama trusts him, then so does Sita. If they both trust Hanuman, why shouldn’t we? And what does Hanuman want? With his life and activities he gives inspiration to try harder to be successful in life. He shows that in devotion success is guaranteed, and that conversely in material life no one can ever be happy.

In Closing:

By difficult journey coming alone,

Knower of ability in Rama shown.


Of distinctions also aware,

As Supersoul in spaces everywhere.


Hanuman towards Sita went,

With Lord’s sacred ring sent.


In him Divine couple greatness to see,

Inspiration to all seekers is he.