Learning By Example

Hanuman, a great devotee “Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.21)

Vaishnavas, devotees of Lord Vishnu, are especially competent to teach others in society. Due to their devotion to God, they automatically acquire a status worthy of respect and veneration. We should humbly submit ourselves to these exalted persons, for they set the best example to follow.

Baby Krishna with parents Our superiors, be it our parents or teachers, have the necessary experience to impart knowledge and wisdom upon us. Our parents have been through the trials and tribulations of life. Maturing from youth to adulthood is not an easy thing. Life constantly throws hurdles in the way of our progression, making it difficult to achieve advancement in knowledge. Young children are always in the discovery mode. Children under the age of five years old just want to play all the time. They wake up and start playing right away. If they get tired they sleep, otherwise they are playing all day and eating only when told to by their parents. While playing, children constantly take in information, discovering new things that enhance their knowledge. Slowly but surely they learn to crawl, walk, and talk. As they mature into adolescents and adults, the learning continues.

“If only I knew then, what I know now.” As adults, when we see old pictures of ourselves we often think, “What was I thinking? I can’t believe I dressed that way back then.” It is very common for college age youths to experiment with drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. Later on in life however, these same people give up or curb these habits since they realize how harmful they are. When they become parents, they don’t want their children repeating the same mistakes they made in their college days. These sentiments are common because we’re always making advancements in knowledge, learning from our mistakes.

Our parents and preceptors, having gone through life’s experiences already, can save us from making the same mistakes that they made as youths. Parents never want their children to suffer in the same ways that they did. When we are crawling around as youngsters, our parents warn us to stay away from dangerous things such as electrical sockets and staircases. If not for their warnings, we would be at risk for serious injury. Our parents give us curfews, force us to eat our meals on time, and make us do our homework. We might not like adhering to all these rules, but in the end we are benefitted by them, so much so that later on in life, we institute similar rules on our own children.

Marriage of Sita and Rama When Lord Krishna, God Himself, advented on earth as Lord Rama, He was banished from Ayodhya by the king, Maharaja Dashratha, who was also His father. Accompanied by His wife Sita and younger brother Lakshmana, the Lord was ready to embark for the forest when His mother Kausalya stepped in and offered some words of advice to her daughter-in-law. Concerned very much for the welfare of her son, Kausalya advised Sita to always remain by Rama’s side and to always serve and honor him. Sita Devi was an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, who, in the short definition, serves as God’s wife in the spiritual world. Thus Sita was naturally acquainted with all the rules of propriety, for she has been serving the lotus feet of the Lord since time immemorial.

“O exalted one, having learnt from the most exalted women about the major, as well the minor, duties of a wife, how can I now despise my husband, Lord Rama? A husband is indeed a deity to a woman.” (Sita Devi speaking to Kausalya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 39)

As a good daughter-in-law, Sita respectfully heeded the words of Kausalya, and replied with a few short statements of her own. In the above referenced quote, Sita states that she had learned very well from her superiors all the duties relating to a wife, and that she had no intention of ignoring those instructions.

In the Vedic tradition, the husband is viewed as the foremost deity for the wife. By deity, we mean that the husband is viewed to be as good as God to the wife. Of course he is not the original God, but a good husband who is devoted to serving Lord Krishna should be treated as his representative by the wife. If the wife faithfully serves such a husband, then both are benefitted because they will successfully fulfill the true mission of life, becoming God conscious. People who always keep Krishna on their minds, and who faithfully serve Him, return to His spiritual planets at the expiry of their life.

“While suffering at the time of death, Ajamila chanted the holy name of the Lord, and although the chanting was directed toward his son, he nevertheless returned home, back to Godhead. Therefore if one faithfully and inoffensively chants the holy name of the Lord, where is the doubt that he will return to Godhead?” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 6.2.49)

Once the soul goes to God’s spiritual realm, it never returns to the material world. In a marriage, it is only required that one party, usually the husband, be expert in serving Krishna. The husband and wife share the same fate once they are married, so if one person is purely Krishna conscious, then the spouse automatically shares in the religious merits. For this reason, it is in the best interest of the wife to make sure her husband is treated nicely and is adhering to the practice of devotional service.

Mirabai worshiping Lord Krishna Growing up, Sita was taught all of this by her parents and the brahmanas that lived in her father’s kingdom of Mithila. Since she received such an expert education, it would be a shame for her to not carry out the instructions provided by her teachers. This is the sentiment of a good student and a pure soul. Saintly people always credit their teachers for everything that they know. Even if they become highly advanced in knowledge, they never think themselves to be smarter than the people who taught them.

By worshiping Rama and standing by His side during the most difficult period of His life, Sita was honoring her teachers by faithfully following their instructions. She never for a second wanted to bring dishonor to her family. In this respect, Sita Devi sets the example that we should all follow. Krishna is the Supreme Deity, so we should all worship Him. All women should first accept Krishna as their first husband; for He is God and can accept and support an unlimited number of wives. Husbands should dedicate themselves to serving God, and teach this same principle to their wives. These were the principles that the great Sita Devi lived by, and the best way to honor her legacy is to follow her example.

Categories: glories of sita devi

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