“O ranger of the night, I have come, at the command of the king, to kill those who perpetrate horribly sinful acts and also those who wish harm to the people of the world.” (Lord Rama speaking to Khara, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 29.10)
This passage not only describes the purpose of government, but also one of the reasons for Lord Rama’s advent. The Vedas tell us that God descends to earth from time to time in a variety of forms. His avataras are completely spiritual, but they assume the guise of a normal living entity. More than anything else, the Lord comes to protect the pious class of men, those who are great devotees.
The innocent need protection and it is the job of a king to provide it. A kingdom, or any government for that matter, is God’s representative on earth, for the Lord is the original protector of man. In the beginning, there was nothing except God. Actually the concept of time and space only exist in the material world. The human brain is not capable of understanding anything beyond time and space. That is the nature of God and all things relating to Him, for He is not limited to anything. Since all things directly relating to God are completely spiritual, they are not subject to the defects of the material world. In the spiritual world, there is Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He then directly expands Himself into many other forms, all of which also reside in the spiritual world. The material creation exists as a way for spirit souls to enjoy their senses, falsely believing themselves to be equal to God. The first created living entity was Lord Brahma. Taking birth from Lord Vishnu’s navel, Brahma is often referred to as the self-born. He is the original progenitor of man, for every living entity can trace their lineage back to him.
“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)
Lord Brahma didn’t limit himself to creating just human beings. Being the creator, he gave birth to all forms of life on earth. For life to exist in the material creation, the sun was required. Scientists consider the sun to be a star or other type of astral body, but the Vedas tell us that the sun is a living entity just like all of us. The material world consists of three gunas or qualities: goodness, passion, and ignorance. These qualities are then mixed together in varying proportions which then lead to 8,400,000 varieties of species. One living entity may possess 98% goodness, while another may have 50% goodness, 25% passion, and 25% ignorance, etc. Along with material qualities come the material elements, both gross and subtle. The subtle elements are mind, intelligence, and false ego and the gross elements are earth, water, fire, air, and ether. These elements represent the complete set, for all living entities contain these elements to varying degrees. Life doesn’t just exist on earth. Rather, life can exist anywhere in the infinite cosmos that is the universe. The sun is also a living entity with its own residents, but we don’t have the eyes to see this.
The sun god is considered a demigod, or an elevated living entity with special powers. Vivasvan has a body made almost completely of fire. His power is so strong that he provides heat and light to millions of living entities on this earth. Mankind has made great technological advancements in recent times, allowing it to create its own sources of energy, heat, and light. However, the resources required to fuel these appliances and machines are limited. That is why we always see debates over whether or not people should be allowed to drill for more oil in various parts of the world. Oil, or petroleum, is a naturally occurring substance which, when refined, fuels much of the advanced technology of today. As great as oil may be, it still pales in comparison to the power of the sun. The sun has been burning since the beginning of time and no one can understand the source of its energy.
According to the genealogy of man which is contained in the Vedas, Vivasvan’s son was Manu, the first man on earth. The word “man” derives from Manu. Manu then had a son named Ikshvaku, who served as the first king. Veda means knowledge, and the Vedas themselves represent perfect knowledge about all things spiritual and material. The Vedas are also known as the shrutis, meaning “that which is heard.” In the beginning, Vedic knowledge was passed down exclusively through an oral tradition. Manu, being the first man, decided to codify many of the Vedic tenets, especially those pertaining to the functions of government. His son Ikshvaku would be the first king on earth, so Manu knew he would need guidelines on how to rule his kingdom. The Manu-Smriti, or Laws of Manu, describes in great detail how a king should perform his duties. Everything from the proper tax rates to diplomatic strategies are covered in the Manu-Smriti. Smriti means written instruction, or “that which is remembered”. The injunctions of the Manu-Smriti have provided guidance for man since the beginning of creation.
Ikshvaku set the standard for good government. He was so pious that all his descendents became known as the Ikshvakus. Taking birth in this line was considered very special, for every king would have to live up to Ikshvaku’s example. Thus it is not surprising to see that Lord Rama, God Himself, took birth in this famous line. During the Treta Yuga, a king by the name of Dashratha was ruling over Ayodhya. He had no son to whom he could pass down the kingdom to, thus he was advised to perform a great sacrifice. As a result, he was blessed with four sons, the eldest of which was Rama. God’s appearance was no accident. At the time, Rakshasa demons were ascending to power and wreaking havoc throughout the world. Their leader, Ravana, was especially powerful, for he had been granted several boons by the demigods. Only a human being could kill him. Obviously no ordinary human had the fighting prowess to defeat Ravana, so God Himself decided to appear in the guise of a human.
Government really only exists to provide protection to the innocent. Not everyone is a good or nice person. The material qualities determine a person’s nature, and people in the mode of ignorance are generally unaware of any moral codes. We see examples of this anywhere. Modern day terrorists have no problems blowing up bombs aboard airplanes or in public places. Even if innocent women and children are killed, they don’t feel the slightest remorse. This activity is completely in the mode of ignorance because it is done in defiance or in ignorance of the laws of karma. Government exists to protect the innocent from such people.
In the above referenced statement, Lord Rama is telling the Rakshasa demon Khara that He has appeared specifically to dole out punishment to the sinful. And what was Khara’s sin? He and his fellow Rakshasas were preying on the innocent, the sages living in the forest of Dandaka. Rakshasas are human-like living entities who are sinful by nature. Their primary activities involve intoxication and meat eating. Not just ordinary meat eating either, for they have problem eating human flesh. In fact, these Rakshasas would terrorize the saints living in the forest, kill them, and then eat their flesh. For committing such heinous crimes, the Lord personally came to hand out punishment.
What was the punishment that Rama handed out? Death, which is the most painful experience for an atheist or enemy of the saints of the world. The Vedas represent true knowledge, and thus their first instruction is that we are not our bodies, aham brahmasmi. “I am a spirit soul, or Brahman. My identity comes from the atma (soul), and not from my material body which is nothing more than a dress that gets discarded at the time of death.” Atheists and Rakshasas especially, either don’t understand or don’t believe in these truths. They take the body, along with its possessions and attributes, to be the beginning and end of everything. They know nothing beyond the current life. Hence, when death comes, it is very painful for them, for it means they are forced to relinquish all that they have worked so hard for.
Lord Rama, just like the other pious men living in the forest at the time, was just minding His own business and not bothering anyone. Ravana’s sister, Shurpanakha, came to His cottage and started harassing Sita, Rama’s wife. Lakshmana, Rama’s brother, then disfigured Shurpanakha, causing her return home crying to Ravana. The demon then sent Khara and 14,000 other Rakshasas to attack Rama. Little did they know that the Lord would defeat all of them in one fell swoop.
No feat is impossible for God. For the devotees, He is always standing guard, ready to protect them. In today’s world, we see that demons and other enemies of God have a strong presence. Many of them even serve as government leaders. Thus no one is really protected. For this age, God incarnates in the form of His holy name. Those who regularly chant “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, in a sincere and devoted manner will certainly be guaranteed of God’s protection. The Lord appears on earth to provide protection, so when He incarnates in the form of His name, He has the same potency to defend us.