“The human soul says: I take shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who appears in His various eternal forms and walks on the surface of the world. I take shelter of Him only, because He can give me relief from all fear and from Him I have received this condition of life, which is just befitting my impious activities.” (Lord Kapila describing the prayers of a child in the womb, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.31.12)
It is very important to have good role models and leaders. We have a tendency to follow those that we look up to. Be they our parents, star athletes, or famous celebrities, we are influenced by the behavior of those we view as authority figures.
A new child is born into ignorance. An infant cannot even feed itself, for it is completely dependent on the care of its parents. From the Shrimad Bhagavatam, we get a glimpse into the mindset of the child while it is still in the womb of the mother. According to the Vedas, living entities are all eternally existing spirit souls who have fallen into this material world for some reason or another. Due to our karma, we are forced to repeat the cycle of birth and death. While in the womb of the mother, the child promises to God that this birth will be its last, for it develops consciousness in the womb.
“This prayer of the child in the womb may be questioned by some atheistic people. How can a child pray in such a nice way in the womb of his mother? Everything is possible by the grace of the Lord. The child is put into such a precarious condition externally, but internally he is the same, and the Lord is there. By the transcendental energy of the Lord, everything is possible.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.31.18 Purport)
However, as soon as the child is born, God’s illusory energy known as maya, takes over and envelops the mind in complete ignorance. Knowledge of previous births is instantly forgotten along with the promise made to God while in the womb. Maya is so strong that none of us can even remember our infancy, though we know we went through it based on the authoritative statements of our parents.
From our very birth we are constantly gathering information and rebuilding our intelligence. Our elders are much more advanced in knowledge than we are, so naturally we look to them for guidance. We see that our mother and father act independently and are capable of doing things that we can’t. Most of the time, we listen to what they tell us because we trust them. In the same manner, star athletes and movie stars have proven to be successful in their careers, something young children dream of. By copying their behavior, we hope to one day to be as successful as they are.
It is very important to choose the right people to act as our role models. The famous basketball player Charles Barkley once boldly declared that he wasn’t and shouldn’t be viewed as a role model for children. It was a very noble gesture on his part since he knew that by being in the public eye, children would naturally look up to him. Many times athletes and other celebrities don’t necessarily lead exemplary lives. They may have addictions to drinking and drugs, or other shortcomings. People who follow their lead are then bound to go down the wrong path.
The Ramacharitamanasa of Tulsidas describes a famous example of a person being led astray due to choosing the wrong spiritual leader. The evil Rakshasa demon Ravana, for whom Krishna personally descended to earth to destroy, took birth many thousands of years ago, wreaking havoc throughout the world. A staunch materialist, Ravana was dedicated to accumulating wealth and satisfying his senses at any cost. The reasons for appearance on earth and ascension to power vary from creation to creation. In one particular instance, Ravana’s birth took place due to events of his previous life. In a previous birth, Ravana was known as Maharaja Pratapabhanu, a great king. One day while chasing a bear in the forest, he ended up getting lost. He ran into a person who was in the guise of an ascetic, but in actuality was a former king whom Pratapabhanu had defeated and caused to lose his kingdom. Not recognizing the king, Pratapabhanu took the imposter for a learned brahmana and informed him that he had gotten lost. The ascetic in disguise immediately recognized Pratapabhanu and seized on the opportunity to give him payback. He advised Pratapabhanu to perform a sacrifice and to feed the brahmanas of his kingdom afterwards. Pratapabhanu agreed and invited all the royal brahmanas. Meanwhile, the imposter ascetic had managed to contaminate the food with the flesh of a brahmana. Unaware that the food was contaminated, Pratapabhanu requested the brahmanas to partake of the feast. Just prior to taking the food, a voice from the sky warned the brahmanas that the food contained the flesh of a brahmana. Extremely angered, the brahmanas cursed Pratapabhanu to fall down from his high position and take birth in his next life as a lowly Rakshasa. By following the lead of an unworthy person, Pratapabhanu lost everything.
When Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, incarnated on earth to kill Ravana, He was born as the eldest son to the king of Ayodhya, Maharaja Dashratha. Known by the name of Rama, He enacted many glorious pastimes in His life, including voluntarily accepting banishment to the forest by His father for fourteen years. The punishment was requested by Dashratha’s youngest wife on the eve of Lord Rama’s would-be coronation as the new king. Being ordered to leave the kingdom, the Lord went to tell His wife, Sita, the news. Sita Devi was the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, whose appearance on earth coincided with that of Lord Rama’s. God usually brings His family from the spiritual world with Him whenever He personally comes to the material world. The couple had already enjoyed several years of married life at the time of this incident. In telling Sita the bad news, the Lord begged her to remain in the kingdom for the duration of the exile period. She was a beautiful and delicate princess, not meant for suffering the hardships of the woods. She was accustomed to royal life from her childhood, so the Lord was worried how she would fare without those comforts. Sita’s feet were the most delicate, so Lord Rama was worried about the pain she would endure by having to walk on the bare ground.
“No toil shall I suffer on the way, as if lying on a bed of luxury, while following you in thy footsteps.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 29)
Following God is the most blessed path of all. Sita Devi, being completely dedicated to her husband who was God Himself, did not entertain the thought of living without Him for even a second. She was dead-set on following Him, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. She put forth a series of arguments in favor of her going, a speech which included the above referenced quote. She essentially told Rama that there can be no pain inflicted on anyone who follows His lead. Sita was giving us a hint into the divinity of Rama by this statement. The only pathway to happiness in this world is to follow the path laid down by God Himself. Lord Rama’s lotus feet are the most blessed, and anyone strictly following the path laid down by those feet is sure to be rewarded with devotion to Him. There is no denying that our role models can be very helpful in making us successful in our material endeavors. Yet we know that material success can only take us so far. According to the Vedas, this life is meant for God realization.
“The first aphorism of Vedanta-sutra is athato brahma jijnasa, i.e., only when one has finished the business of mundane inquiries in the marketplace of sense gratification can one make relevant inquiries regarding Brahman, the Transcendence.” (Shrila Prabhupada, SB 3.5.12 Purport)
Krishna is the original spiritual master, so we should make Him our role model. In the Bhagavad-gita, the warrior Arjuna was dismayed prior to the commencement of a great war. Having lost the will to fight, he was ready to give up and repair to the woods to live as an ascetic. Lord Krishna took it upon Himself to act as his spiritual master, guiding Him on the proper path. After explaining to him the constitutional position of the soul and the proper duties associated with being a kshatriya, Arjuna changed His mind and decided to fight. Not surprisingly, he was victorious in battle, but more importantly, he was victorious in his devotion to Krishna. Lord Hanuman, the great devotee of Lord Rama, followed the Lord’s instructions and helped rescue Sita Devi after she had been kidnapped by Ravana. For his great heroism and dedication to the Lord, Hanuman gained eternal glory. He is worshipped by millions to this very day.
The lesson to be learned from Sita Devi is that God is the reliever of all distresses. We merely have to come to Him and follow His lead, and we are sure to be successful. In this age, in His form as Lord Chaitanya, God has recommended that we take up the practice of chanting His holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare” as the only means of salvation. By following Lord Rama’s lead, even the harsh forest seemed wonderful to Sita. By following Lord Chaitanya, this material world, full of miseries, can become a blissful place for all of us.
Categories: glories of sita devi