“Oh queen, I tell you in truth that I am firmly attached, with loving devotion, to my brother Rama.” (Lakshmana speaking to Kausalya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 21.16)
Every person has some sort of attachment, either for a person or for some activity. Our country, husband, wife, children, or even the sports we play are some of the more common things that we can have attachments to. While these attachments aren’t necessarily bad, the Vedas tell us that we should try to develop an attachment to the Supreme Lord instead.
The material world is composed of five gross elements and three subtle elements. Earth, air, water, fire, and ether make up the material elements, and the mind, intelligence, and false ego comprise the subtle elements. It is the nature of the spirit soul to be active, thus the mind of the living entity is always taking it some place or another. In general, most people are involved in activities relating to sense gratification. The tongue and the stomach are the most difficult organs to control, thus the mind leads one to such sinful acts as meat eating and intoxication. We are all looking for sense pleasure, and if we find some activity that provides some temporary variety of it, we have a tendency to develop an attachment to this activity. This sense pleasure is only temporary, thus we have to constantly repeat our engagement in activities to reignite the feeling of happiness. The machine known as the body is in essence a deceiver, only giving us false sense pleasure.
“Hooked into this deceiver, need more and more. Into the endless fever, need more and more. New consequence machine, burn through all your gasoline…” (Metallica, The End of the Line)
The body and the senses are the ultimate deceivers since they keep telling us that we’ll be happy in this material world. We keep making plans and adjustments here and there, thinking that we’ll finally be happy. In the end, we are forced to give up our bodies at the time of death and then accept a new one based on the actions we performed in this life.
“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.22)
There are consequences to our actions which force us to accept new bodies in the material world. Sense gratification deceives us in that it never provides us eternal happiness, but rather forces us to repeat the cycle of birth and death.
These things are difficult to put into perspective since we live in the here and now. It may not seem like such a bad thing to have to take birth again, but there is no guarantee that we’ll come back as human beings. That makes it all the more difficult to break out of this repeated cycle. The only path towards salvation is to think of God at the time of death.
“Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 9.25)
The human form of life represents an advancement over the the animals since we have a much greater level of intelligence. One should make the most of this opportunity by using their intelligence to develop an attachment for God. This was the path chosen by Lakshmana, the brother of Lord Rama. Rama was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who is non-different from Krishna. In the spiritual world, Vishnu resides with His wife Lakshmi Devi and Ananta Shesha Naga. When He came to earth as Rama, Vishnu brought Lakshmi with Him in the form of Sita Devi, and Ananta Shesha Naga in the form of Lakshmana. Rama had three younger brothers, all sons of the king of Ayodhya, Maharaja Dashratha. Lakshmana was the one closest to Rama, for he was ever attached to Rama right from their childhood. Since they were sons of the king, Rama and His brothers grew up together learning the military arts. Lakshmana always followed Rama in everything. He wouldn’t sleep unless Rama was with Him. He refused to have His meals unless Rama ate first. Lakshmana’s love was completely pure and without motive. Simply hearing of his unflinching faith and devotion to Rama brings joy to the heart.
In the above referenced statement, Lakshmana is declaring his love for his brother to Rama’s mother, Kausalya. Rama had just been ordered to leave the kingdom and spend fourteen years in the forest living as a hermit. This was ordered by their father, Dashratha, at the behest of his youngest wife, Queen Kaikeyi. Rama took the news in stride, but Lakshmana was quite outraged by it. Here he is trying to convince Kausalya to talk to Rama and get Him to remain in the kingdom. Lakshmana was ready to mount a coup and take on any enemies that opposed the coronation of Rama. His love was so strong that he knew no other form of dharma, or religiosity.
Men generally have difficulty expressing their emotions. They tend to prefer the path of chivalry, whereby they keep their emotions bottled inside. It is quite common for wives to complain that their husbands don’t say “I love you” enough. This has formed the basis of much stereotypical male-female humor. If they have difficulty expressing their love to their wives or girlfriends, one can only imagine how hard it must be for men to express their feelings to their brothers or male friends. Lakshmana had no such fear. He had no problem telling the whole world that he was attached to Rama.
This is the trademark characteristic of a bhakta, or devotee. God is the only hope and savior for the devotees. They put all their faith and trust in Him, and they are confident that He will deliver them from all calamities. This confidence removes all their fears, thus they boldly declare their love for God and always engage in His service. This was the path chosen by Lakshmana. He was a great archer, for He could conquer any enemy in battle. Yet this is not what he wanted to be known for. “I am a servant of Rama.” That is how Lakshmana wanted to be known and he had no problem declaring this to the world. He always remained by Rama’s side, through thick and thin. For this reason, He is ever worthy of our adoration and respect. We should follow his lead by developing an attachment for God. If we depend on Him for everything, we will be eternally happy.
Categories: glories of lakshmana