Purifying Through Presence

Hanuman“My having glanced at the wives of others sleeping in their home will certainly do a great harm to my virtue.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 11.37)

para dāra avarodhasya prasuptasya nirīkṣaṇam ||
idam khalu mama atyartham dharma lopam kariṣyati |

After his eyes travelled everywhere around the room, seeing the ins and outs of the palace, placing his glance upon the most beautiful women in the world Shri Hanuman caught himself for a second. “What I am doing is surely sinful. I should not be looking at another man’s wife while she is sleeping. Yet what can I do? I’m looking for someone who was taken away from her husband, and my duty is to search every single inch of space in this horrible land ruled by the cruelest of ogres.” Ironically enough, to the leader his lifestyle wasn’t bad at all. Indeed, to many who take sense gratification to be the ultimate aim in life, the lifestyle found within the inner apartments of the king of Rakshasas in Lanka would have to be considered a paradise. Women, wine and meat were in abundance, so much so that the body could not handle so much enjoyment and simultaneously fend off the urge to sleep. Yet to Hanuman none of these allures were palatable. He was looking for the purest of the pure, Sita Devi, the wife of Lord Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Though the two divine figures, Sita and Hanuman, were worthy of living in pure conditions, their very presence in the most sinful of places would eventually lead to its purification as well.

HanumanIf we see a homeless person sprawled out on the street with an empty bottle of whiskey beside them, it’s natural for feelings of pity to come over us. After all, only someone with a serious drinking problem who has major issues with depression, anxiety or mental stability would become so intoxicated that they would call the street their home. Even amongst people who hold steady jobs, having an addiction to intoxication is always a cause for concern. The drunkard is not looked upon too well, as their internal cleanliness is destroyed through their unsavory habit.

With Ravana, he seemingly had everything going for him – thousands of the most beautiful women in the world as wives, material opulence that couldn’t be accurately measured, and a fighting ability so strong that the entire world feared him. He had the animal activities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending well accounted for. If an animal can take care of these four activities without a problem, it can live comfortably. But the human beings, as an advanced species, are meant to transcend these activities, with Ravana’s dedication to sinful life proving this fact. Though he had every enjoyment imaginable at his fingertips, Ravana essentially lived the life of a drunkard.

Was Ravana asleep on the floor? Was he homeless? How was his lifestyle harmed by his dedication to drinking wine and eating meat? When Hanuman went to Lanka, he saw that Ravana’s palaces and community resembled those found in the heavenly realm. Hanuman, though in a monkey form, was sent to Lanka to search for Sita Devi, whom Ravana had taken away from the side of her husband. Though he had won the hand of many princesses through victories in fair fights with powerful kings, Ravana knew he couldn’t get Sita that way. She was married to the most powerful bow warrior of the time, Shri Rama, who happened to be living in the forest of Dandaka for a short period of time.

Sita DeviThough he had ten arms and the boon granted to him that no celestial creature could destroy him in battle, Ravana still used a backhanded method to take Sita away. When Rama learned that she was missing, He frantically searched the forest for her whereabouts, eventually forming an alliance with the king of monkeys, Sugriva, who then dispatched his massive monkey army to look for Sita around the world. Hanuman was the most capable of the members of the search party, so the burden of finding Sita would eventually fall on him. Learning that she was staying on a distant island called Lanka, Hanuman did what was necessary to make the journey.

Hanuman knew that Sita was in Lanka, but that was the extent of the information provided to him. He had actually never met her, so he had to search every inch of space in Lanka and then rely on his knowledge of Shri Rama to decipher who Sita was. Hanuman knew that Rama was the very life and soul of all human beings, the knower of the self. Rama was God Himself appearing in a transcendental form capable of accepting worship from those willing to offer it. For Sita to be His wife, she must have been endowed with every virtue imaginable, divine qualities not found in any other woman. Her foremost characteristic would have to be her devotion to Rama, which would mean that she would be the saddest person in Lanka. Attachment to God results in extreme distress and sadness when separated from the Lord’s company, especially when Rama happens to be your husband.

Hanuman, assuming a diminutive stature to remain unseen, searched through Lanka, eventually making his way into Ravana’s giant palace, with its many inner chambers. What Hanuman saw was incomparable in its beauty. There were so many beautiful women inside, enjoying in various ways. These were not low class women, for they looked like they had taken birth from gods and other celestial figures. He saw that most of them were drunk, passed out from a night of enjoying with their husband, Ravana. Hanuman saw the king of Rakshasas himself passed out, also from drinking and enjoying. There were empty and full glasses of wine everywhere, with the finest meats seasoned to perfection laid out as well.

HanumanThough on the outside conditions appeared opulent, Ravana’s life was really no different from that of a drunkard, someone to be pitied. The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, consider the human form of life to be the most auspicious because of the potential for acquiring the highest type of knowledge. Children and adults don’t find the same activities enjoyable because in the adult the level of consciousness has evolved. You can’t put on a children’s television show or movie in front of an adult and have them enjoy it as much as a child will.

With that advanced consciousness comes a new set of corresponding activities. Yet when the adult is not trained properly, not given the proper education on spiritual matters, the activities they will take up will fail to match up with the full potential for maturity accompanying a human birth. The human brain is so advanced that it can realize the impending arrival of death and how temporary life is. The mind can understand that the seasons come and go on their own and that happiness and distress occur as regularly as the rising and setting of the sun. Armed with this information, one can travel down one of two avenues.

Based on what Hanuman saw in Lanka, Ravana obviously chose the wrong path. His method of enjoyment was really no different from that of a person wasting away their life through despair or depression. If there is sadness, is the proper remedy intoxication, overeating, or oversleeping? Obviously not, as these activities do nothing to uplift one’s spirits. Similarly, when there is knowledge of impending death, of the mortality of man, the answer is not to indulge the senses even more, to revert to a less intelligent mindset just to find enjoyment. There is one simple way to make the same activities from childhood enjoyable again: revert back to the intelligence of a child. What easier way is there to devolve in consciousness then to become inebriated through drinking, overeating and excessive indulgence in sex life?

Lord RamaIn this way we see that Ravana’s life in Lanka was to be pitied. Ironically enough, the king thought that Rama was the poverty stricken person, someone not wise enough to realize what was important in life. Rama was known as the most capable warrior, yet somehow He was roaming the forests for fourteen years. The king of Ayodhya, Maharaja Dasharatha, Rama’s father, ordered his son to leave the kingdom and not return for fourteen years. To Ravana, Rama’s acceptance of this edict did not make sense. “If He’s so strong, why didn’t He just overtake the kingdom for Himself? Why on earth would He choose life as a hermit in a place amidst animals instead of the regal lifestyle? Obviously He mustn’t be very strong. He doesn’t deserve His wife either, for a woman should be with a strong man capable of providing everything for her.”

What Ravana didn’t know was that Rama was Lord Vishnu, the four-handed form of the Absolute Truth residing in the spiritual sky of Vaikuntha. At the behest of the heavenly figures, Vishnu came to earth to do away with Ravana. Vishnu is known as being atmarama, or self-satisfied. Therefore Rama didn’t need anything, including a kingdom. Sita was with Him in the forest at her insistence. She too didn’t require wine, meat, or opulent jewelry. Her wealth was her devotion to her husband, and she refused to allow Him to suffer alone in a forest. Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana also felt the same way towards Rama, so he came along for the journey too.

The other path in life that all of us have the option of choosing is that of dharma, or religiosity. Dharma is the set of law codes instituted by Vishnu at the beginning of time. More than just a way to regulate activity and keep one from committing sin, dharma is meant to bring the foremost characteristic of the soul to the forefront of consciousness. Though there are temporary changes of the outer covering – from boyhood to youth, from youth to old age – the essence of life does not get affected. Even death has no bearing on the spirit soul. Only the sober man can understand these truths and know what to do with them.

By following dharma, the properties of spirit rise to a fully active state. By nature the spirit soul is knowledgeable, blissful and eternal. When encased in a body composed of the three modes of material nature, these three properties manifest in perverted ways. Eternality is forgotten, so it results only in the constant changing of bodies. Knowledge is used to find further sensual delights, things already available to even the most ignorant animal. And the blissful propensity manifests through service offered to every person and thing except God. Though the soul can take on bodies which are ever changing, its original position is that of servant of Krishna, or God. jivera svarupa haya nitya-krishna-dasa, as Lord Chaitanya so nicely says.

Sita, Rama and LakshmanaFollowing dharma allows one to reassume their svarupa. Therefore following principles of virtue is very important. Sita, Rama and Lakshmana had no requirement to follow dharma, but they did so to set a good example. Though the rules and regulations can sometimes conflict, when the ultimate goal of having an attachment to God is kept in mind, the proper course of action can always be deciphered. Rama followed dharma by ensuring that His father’s promise to the youngest queen Kaikeyi was not violated. Dasharatha had promised the queen any two boons of her choosing. It was actually her request that Rama leave the kingdom; so to ensure that Dasharatha wouldn’t be made out to be a liar, Rama agreed to leave.

Similarly, Sita and Lakshmana were following dharma by always staying by Rama’s side and seeing to His pleasure. They never wanted anything from Rama; rather, they were always looking to offer something to Him. The same went for Hanuman, who was not in Lanka on any personal business. He had no hankering for travel or for seeing beautiful women. He was in Lanka strictly to do his master’s business, but he nevertheless kept religious principles always in mind. He knew that it wasn’t wise to see others’ wives in vulnerable situations where they were scantily dressed. But what could he do? He even risked sin to ensure that Rama’s interests would be met. In this regard there was no possibility of Hanuman ever deviating from the path of dharma.

Hanuman meeting SitaOn the one hand you have Sita and Hanuman, two divine figures pure in every way, and on the other you have Ravana and his life of debauchery. Obviously the two sides don’t mix, but Sita and Hanuman found themselves inside of Ravana’s kingdom. In the meeting of these forces, the side abiding by dharma would win. Not only would they emerge unscathed, but their presence in Lanka would also indirectly purify Ravana. The saints go to where the sinners are, so Hanuman’s presence in Lanka brought the king of Rakshasas direct audience with the most worshipable and honorable person to have ever roamed this earth, Shri Rama. Sita was the catalyst for Ravana’s purification, Hanuman would keep the ball rolling, and Rama would provide the ultimate end through His arrows shot into the demon’s stomach, ending his life and granting him liberation. Anyone who is directly killed by the Supreme Lord is delivered of their sinful reactions and promised an end to rebirth. Similarly, anyone who hears about Hanuman’s exploits, his dedication to virtue, and his undying devotion to Sita, Rama and Lakshmana with sincerity will be purified and eventually find their original position as servant of God. Hanuman’s presence, either in person or through the words and songs describing his glories, is always purifying, even to those who don’t know it.

In Closing:

Ravana, in opulent kingdom thought he had it all,

Unaware that coming soon was his downfall.

Of inviting sin Hanuman not fond,

Yet wives of others his eyes gazed upon.

Felt remorse for this transgression of dharma,

Accidentally seeing life devoted to kama.

The drunkard through habits life does waste away,

Though a king, Ravana’s life going the same way.

Knowledge of impending death leaves us with choice,

To follow path of sin or in talks of God rejoice.

Ravana followed sin, but through saints was saved,

Sita there and across ocean Hanuman braved.

Saints travel to where the sinners are,

Stand out there like a visible scar.

Sita, Rama, Lakshmana and Hanuman are forever dear,

To the devotees, who see with divine vision so clear.

Categories: searching for sita

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