“I trust that He is not depressed, agitated, or bewildered about what to do. I trust that the prince is set out towards executing the interests of man.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.16)
kaccin na dīnaḥ sambhrāntaḥ kāryeṣu ca na muhyati |
kaccin puruṣa kāryāṇi kurute nṛpateḥ sutaḥ ||
Birth and death. What rational thinking person wouldn’t be bewildered by the combination? One second there is nothing. Just you and your wife. Life is a struggle for sure, but there is some predictability; at least lately. Then suddenly a new person enters the scene. From where did they come? Yes, they emerged from the womb of the wife, who is now known as a mother. But where was that person before?
The newborn goes through similar struggles. They may even one day reach the same age that you are right now. Yet from observation and experience we know that the end of life is guaranteed. Everyone dies. Why show up in this confusing place only to leave it later on?
A long time ago a bow warrior struggled with similar issues, but on a very large scale. He was set to embark on a great war. The “great” here is quantifiable; millions of fighters assembled at one place, Kurukshetra, the battlefield on which a sacred talk was given. Arjuna was the recipient, the person raising doubts, answering questions, and accepting wisdom.
Arjuna could not understand why people had to risk death simply for the right to rule over a kingdom. Would it not be better to step aside? Let the bad guys take over. Not a big deal. Arjuna didn’t need the kingdom. He would be happy either way. Let the other side live, for it contained some well-wishers like the teacher from youth and the pious grandfather.
Fortunately, Shri Krishna was on that chariot with Arjuna. He is Bhagavan, which can be translated as “Supreme Personality of Godhead.” More than just a bright light. More than just a concept or theory. More than just a vague term subject for interpretation. Krishna is both the nirguna, formless, and saguna, with form, aspect of the Divine. He is God the person, similar to every living thing and at the same time different.
Krishna explained the concept of reincarnation in a single verse. The individual in this world is an embodied soul. That soul continues to pass through different changes. At every moment the body is changing. Death is nothing more than the complete change of body.
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
Krishna also said that a wise person is not bewildered by such a change. Na, which means “not,” and muhyati, which means “bewildered.” Here we get insight into what constitutes real wisdom or sobriety of mind. Of course the changes are bewildering at first. Why should there be changes? Why should there be birth and death? From understanding the basics of the spiritual science, the confusion clears.
Many years prior the same Krishna was on earth in the incarnation of Shri Rama, who was a prince. He was the son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Rama taught the same dharma as Krishna, but more through actions than words. Rama stayed on the righteous path, and through His role as kshatriya He brought punishment to the most egregious violators of property and life.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Rama’s wife Sita is speaking to Rama’s messenger Hanuman. She is wondering aloud about Rama’s mindset. She hopes that her husband is not depressed or agitated. He would have justification. His wife was taken away from His side in secret. Who wouldn’t be worried about how their beloved is faring in an unknown and frightening situation?
Sita trusts that Rama is not bewildered about what to do. The same words are used, na and muhyati. Should Rama give up? Should He give in to His grief? Should He curse the world and bemoan His plight?
From the Bhagavad-gita we saw that a soul close to God could show doubts from time to time. Man is a living being, after all. He is not a robot. Emotions will surely be there. The idea is that such changes in emotion should not take a person off the righteous path. What needs to be done should be done, as change is a part of life.
Sita hoped the same thing for her husband, who is actually God Himself. The Supreme Lord plays the role of human being perfectly, showing moments of weakness even. He is described here as the son of a king, nripati. The literal translation to this word is “protector of men.” Sita hopes that Rama is ready to do what is in the interest of man, purusha. This is the primary duty of the protector of men, or people.
Similarly, the hope is that the human being, having the potential for advanced intelligence, will not get bewildered by the dualities of gain and loss, pain and pleasure, heat and cold, and life and death. Better to stay on the righteous path and do what is in the best interest of purusha, or living beings. That highest interest is service to the Supreme Lord, the kind followed by Arjuna, Hanuman, Sita and many others. The path has been cleared in this age; simply follow the acharyas of the bhakti tradition and always chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Change always to occur,
Bewildered, to knowledge defer.
Like when Arjuna to Krishna went,
Potential war mind into trouble sent.
Sita concerned while in land of dread,
Hoped that Rama ready to forge ahead.
Lesson for all of humanity to take,
That high or low, most of this life make.