“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.14)
On a material level, every living entity has certain qualities that they inherit at the time of birth. There are generalities that are attached to each body type, but pure devotees of God transcend these qualities.
At its core, the living entity is a spirit soul, or jivatma. The jivatma is equal in quality to God, but different in quantity. For example, the jivatma can only exist inside one body at a time, while God exists everywhere in His impersonal Brahman expansion. Higher than Brahman is Paramatma; this is God’s expansion as the Supersoul residing in the heart of every living entity. Thus God is conscious of the activities of every living entity, whereas we are only conscious of things relating to our own body. The other difference between us and God, is that God can never be controlled by material nature. He is the Creator after all, so how can one of His energies be superior to Himself? The jivatma, however, is subject to the control of material nature which forces it to repeatedly accept new bodies after death. The actual type of body the jivatma is placed into depends on guna and karma. Gunas are material qualities or modes: goodness, passion, and ignorance. Every material activity can be classified into one of these three modes. Karma is fruitive activity, or work. Qualities and desires determine what type of body we receive at birth.
Though the gross material body is subject to creation and destruction, it nevertheless exists for a set period of time. The length of time the soul spends inside the body is known as one’s lifetime. Guna and karma fructify in the type of body we receive, meaning the body itself has certain qualities that it inherits. For example, the animal species are prone to certain activities which human beings would never think of doing. A hog loves to roll around in mud, eating stool. The dog loves to have sex as often as it can, not having any discretion in picking a mate. A dog doesn’t even proposition other dogs, but rather takes to sexual activity in an aggressive manner. Monkeys behave similarly. They love to run around, making noise, and they too are known for their insatiable appetite for sex. In fact, some people have even tried to acquire the sex glands of monkeys through surgical means, all in hopes of enjoying sex life to the fullest extent.
The human being represents an elevated bodily form. It has the intelligence to understand that there is more to life than just eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. Still, human beings are living entities after all, and the key component to life on earth is sex. In this regard, the human beings are no different than other species. Actually, as long as one continues to have desires to enjoy sex, they are forced to remain in this material world, repeatedly accepting temporary bodies composed of gunas. God has higher plans for us though. In the human form of life, He wants us to achieve the ultimate aim of material existence, that of returning back home, back to His spiritual world. This can only be achieved by becoming purely God conscious. One who shifts his desires from the material world to the spiritual, becomes eligible to break free of the effects of karma.
“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)
Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has definitively declared that one’s consciousness at the time of death determines their fate in the afterlife. This consciousness is developed over the course of our current lifetime and also previous ones. For example, if we engage in unrestricted sex life during our lifetime, we are more likely to think of sex at the time of death. The laws of karma are extremely fair, so the result will be that we will likely end up in the body of a dog or a monkey in the next life.
“The living entity in material nature thus follows the ways of life, enjoying the three modes of nature. This is due to his association with that material nature. Thus he meets with good and evil amongst various species.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 13.22)
Devotional service to God is different however. Karma-phalam refers to the fruits, or results, of one’s work. Every action we perform has a resultant reaction, or consequence. This is how karma works and it is very easy to understand. Devotional service, also known as bhakti yoga or bhagavata-dharma, is above karma. Karma-phalam does not touch the devotee. Karma refers to fruitive work performed on the material platform. One may work very hard to earn a nice salary, or one may perform pious deeds to earn good religious merits. Regardless, these are all of the material variety. The work is performed for a desired result. Even if one is unaware of the results of their activities, it doesn’t mean that they are free of karma. Through ignorance, a person can engage in vikarma, or that activity which results in negative consequences, i.e. sins. If one doesn’t know that murder is illegal, but still knowingly kills an innocent person, the law still holds them liable. In a similar regard, karma doesn’t necessarily take into account one’s knowledge, or lack thereof, of the laws of nature. The laws of karma are absolute, with one exception. The devotees working on the bhagavata-dharma platform do everything for the satisfaction of God. This means they have no desire for fruits. It also means they are above the platform of karma.
Sex is considered the highest form of material sense gratification. This is the primary reason for the living entities coming to and remaining in the material world. Wanting to falsely enjoy nature themselves, the living entities are allowed to take birth in various types of bodies. To allow human beings to enjoy sex, God created two genders, male and female. One is the dominator and the other is the dominated. Because of this, there are inherent qualities exclusive to each gender. Males are generally stronger, while females are weaker and thus known as the fairer sex. As far as attraction for a mate goes, women are generally drawn towards men of power and strength. The phenomenon of groupies is an outgrowth of this trait. Rock stars and other famous celebrities have no trouble finding beautiful female sex partners. Usually they have trouble limiting themselves to only one woman. Hollywood actors are always jumping from one girl to another, with divorce being quite common.
“Oh Rama, since the beginning of creation it has been the nature of women to stand by their husbands during good times, and to abandon them during adversity. Women imitate the insatiability of lightning, the sharpness of weapons, and the celerity of Garuda and the wind. But Your wife, Sita, is devoid of all these faults and, just like Arundhati Devi, she is worthy of being glorified. (Agastya Muni speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, Sec 13.5-7)
This isn’t to say that all women are groupies, but it is a natural tendency for a woman to look for specific traits in a man. This is basically what Agastya Muni is referencing in the statement above. He doesn’t mean to say that all women are bad and all men are good, but rather that they are different. Also he is trying to contrast the common traits of women to those possessed by Sita Devi. During the Treta Yuga, Lord Krishna appeared on earth in human form as Lord Rama. He accepted the daughter of King Janaka of Mithila for His wife. Known as Janaki, or Sita, she was beautiful, chaste, and ever devoted to Rama’s welfare.
On one particular occasion, Lord Rama was ordered to renounce ties to His kingdom of Ayodhya and live in the forest for fourteen years. Rama was the eldest son of the king of Ayodhya, Maharaja Dashratha, and He was next in line to be king. Due to His exalted status, both Rama and His wife lived a life of complete luxury. Rama was awakened every day to the chanting of Vedic hymns and the beating of mrdanagas. By renouncing the kingdom, Rama instantly went from being a prince to a pauper. As Agastya points out, Sita was free from any defects born of her gender. During this tumultuous time, she stood by her man with great courage and strength. Rama asked her to remain in the kingdom, but she steadfastly refused.
Forced to take His young brother Lakshmana and Sita with Him, Rama traversed the forests of India. He used the exile as an opportunity to visit all the great sages who had set up hermitages in the woods. Agastya was one such sage, and a very exalted one to boot. Upon meeting Agastya, the group all bowed before him and offered their humble obeissances. Agastya was quite astute however, and He knew full well Rama’s divinity. Amazingly, upon first meeting them, Agastya immediately took to praising Sita. This means that Sita’s devotion to Rama was well known throughout the world at the time.
“O son of Partha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth-women, vaishyas [merchants], as well as shudras [workers]—can approach the supreme destination.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 9.32)
According to standard societal etiquette, Agastya was the superior and Rama and His group were subordinates. Yet we see from Agastya’s statements that he viewed Sita as a superior. He declared that she was worthy of being praised as the most devoted of wives. The lesson here is that no matter what type of body we accept at the time of birth, we can transcend any and all material designations by taking to devotional service. Sita is the standard bearer for love and affection for God. As a woman, wife, mother, and devotee, no one can surpass her.
Categories: glories of sita devi