“…Since Lord Shri Ramachandra is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva, He is not attached to anything in this material world. He is the most beloved Supersoul of all self-realized souls, and He is their very intimate friend…” (Prayers of Hanuman, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 5.19.6)
God is generally neutral towards all living entities. Sometimes we lose sight of this fact due to events that we witness in our personal lives. Car accidents, earthquakes, and other tragedies can make us lose our faith.
The sight of a child battling cancer or some other terminal disease is quite painful to behold. The blood cancer known as Leukemia is quite common today and it affects mostly younger children. Other kinds of terminal diseases also hit people of all ages and at any stage of life. Some of us also have experienced the loss of a loved one due to an untimely death resulting from some accident or another. These tragedies can leave us wondering if there is a God, and if He exists, why would He let people suffer in this way. In actuality, we are all responsible for the things that happen to us due to our karma and the karma of other people. In essence, this material world is a giant playing field where everyone is competing with each other for fruitive gain. In the game of rugby, grown men battle each other over a ball, purposefully inflicting pain on one another. Karma has similar effects to our bodies. When the spirit soul comes to the material world, it must accept gunas, or material qualities. Inheriting the qualities of goodness, passion, and ignorance to varying degrees, the living entity is placed in a suitable material body wherefrom they become free to pursue their desires. Karma means activity done for some type of fruitive gain. For example, many of us work hard all day at our job so that we can have a nice car, a big house, and other material pleasures. This is considered karmic activity since we are performing our duties with the hopes of receiving fruits.
Problems arise due to the fact that everyone has different desires, some being nobler than others. Since everyone essentially gets what they want and deserve, different karmas collide, which leads to good results and, at the same time, many tragic results. God actually has nothing to do with all of this. Lord Krishna is completely pure and free from karma. He kindly expands Himself as the Paramatma, or Supersoul, and resides in the heart of every living entity. The Supersoul is a neutral witness not responsible for the desires of the living entity. The material world is managed by the demigods, elevated living entities in charge of doling out material benedictions and punishment as well. Yamaraja is known as the god of justice, similar to the concept of the grim reaper. According to the Bhagavad-gita, the soul is eternal, which means that living entities never die, but rather give up their material bodies and accept new ones based on their karma. Whatever one’s consciousness is at the time of death, that consciousness will determine the type of body they receive in the next life. Yamaraja is in charge of determining whether one goes to heaven or hell and how long they stay there. Heaven and hell are both part of the material world, meaning that residence there is still temporary. At the expiry of a person’s good or bad deeds, the soul returns to the material world where the cycle of karma continues.
God makes an exception, however, for His devotees. Those who think of God at the time of death, meaning those whose only desire is to please the Lord and to have association with Him, are guaranteed to return to Krishna’ spiritual planets, wherefrom they never return. Unlike regular heaven and hell, resident in God’s spiritual world is permanent. Only those who are free from karma are allowed to live there.
Just as God is partial to His devotees in a loving way, He is equally as unkind to those who harass His devotees. He doesn’t like it when His devotees are treated unjustly, and in those situations He personally comes to earth to alleviate their suffering.
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion-at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)
Devotees of God have a similar temperament. A sadhu, or saintly person, views every living entity equally, samah sarveshu bhuteshu. They have as much compassion for the ant as they do for their family members. Since they dedicate all their time to serving the Lord, chanting His name, eating His prasadam, and reading the Vedas, the devotees naturally acquire all good qualities. They understand that every living entity is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord and thus is worthy of respect. They make an exception, however, when it comes to the asuras. Since the beginning of time, there has been an ongoing battle between the daivas and the asuras. Daiva refers to a demigod or a devotee, since a pure devotee is considered just as great as a demigod. The asura, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of a daiva, for they are atheistic by nature, completely devoting their life to sinful activity. We see many such people today, for they love to eat meat, gamble, get drunk, and have illicit sex. Not happy with just living a sinful life themselves, they try to push this lifestyle onto others. The devotees are the biggest threat to their way of life, so they spend their time harassing them as much as they can. The modern day proponents of abortion and cow slaughter can certainly be classified as asuras.
During the Treta Yuga, which was essentially many thousands of years ago, an asura by the name of Ravana was harassing the sadhus residing in the forests. Though born of a brahmana father, Ravana was a Rakshasa from his birth and was committed to a sinful way of life. He knew that the brahmanas represented his biggest threat. So powerful that even the demigods couldn’t defeat him, Ravana’s downfall could only come through God’s intervention. Coming to earth in the the form of the greatest warrior prince named Rama, the Lord was all set to become the new king of Ayodhya and therefore become the Lord of earth. During those times, great kings were referred to as the Lord of earth since their jurisdiction spanned many countries. Rama was born in the family of the Ikshvakus, whose lineage traced all the way back to the first kings in human history. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, the Lord’s installation was disrupted, and He was instead ordered to leave the kingdom by His father, Maharaja Dashratha. Rama had no problem with the request, but His younger brother Lakshmana was quite outraged by it. Lord Vishnu came to earth as Rama and Lord Ananta Shesha Naga, the great serpent residing in Vaikuntha, came as Lakshmana. Ever devoted to Rama from his childhood, Lakshmana viewed himself as Rama’s protector. This is the mood of a perfect devotee. Rather than asking from God, a self-realized person offers their services to God.
“Oh best among men (Rama), on the strength of what law or reason does our father propose to grant this kingdom, which rightfully belongs to You, over to Kaikeyi? Oh chastiser of the enemy (Rama), where will Dashratha get the strength from to install Bharata as king? If there remains enmity with both You and myself, there will be no way for him to hand over the kingdom to Bharata.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 21.14-15)
In conjunction with Rama’s exile to the forest, Rama’s other younger brother, Bharata, was to be installed as the new king. This was all the work of Bharata’s mother, Kaikeyi, for both Dashratha and Bharata were equally as devoted to Rama as Lakshmana was. Lakshmana, however, was so devoted to Rama that he didn’t want to even think of anyone else. He viewed the whole situation with disgust and in the above referenced statement, he is trying to convince Rama to stay and usurp power over the kingdom. Lakshmana openly declares that no one should dare carry hostility towards Rama or himself.
This is a warning to all the asuras. Lakshmana is extremely kind, so nice that during their fourteen year exile in the forest, Lakshmana would stay awake at night guarding the sleeping place of Rama and His wife, Sita Devi. He was great friends with all of Rama’s fellow devotees, and He was loved and adored by all. Yet as nice as He was, He was equally as unkind to Rama’s enemies. Many a time the two brothers were involved in battles against Rakshasa attackers, and Lakshmana held nothing back while defending his brother.
If one goes against the devotees, the Lord personally comes to punish them as He did through His incarnations of Narasimhadeva and Lord Rama. If one goes against God, the devotees like Lakshmana also personally come to punish them. The Lord and His devotees go hand in hand, so it is in our best interests to worship and respect them both. The Lord and His devotees are so kind that one needn’t have any hostility towards them. One way to measure God’s greatness is by looking at the company He keeps. We can only imagine how great Lord Rama is, for He has someone as wonderful as Lakshmana for His closest confidante, protector, and well-wisher.
Categories: glories of lakshmana