Removing Illusion

Lord Rama“Laughing, the muni said, ‘O Janaka, this form is so beautiful that by remembering it one gets so many good merits that all bad elements caused by illusion get removed.’” (Janaki Mangala, 96)

muni hansi kaheu janaka yaha mūrati sohai |
sumirata sakṛta moha mala sakala bichohai ||

Knowledge is power. A knowledgeable person immediately is able to fight off illusion in the form of ignorance. If you’re lacking the requisite knowledge, it will be more difficult to tell that you’re being fooled. An outsider can inform you that you are wrong in your assessment, that you’re not looking at things clearly, but it is better if you actually know what is going on yourself. Rather than close your eyes to the deception, if you can shine a bright light to see through the thick illusion, you will be better situated. A similar point was made by the venerable Vishvamitra Muni a long time ago.

The illusion in question related to a king’s worries over the outcome to a contest. It was his contest, so it would make sense that he would have concern over the result. A bow lay in the middle of an arena. Anyone who could lift it up with their arms would be the winner of the contest. Frantic jostling over who would get first in line wasn’t necessary. It wasn’t like fighting over some money that fell on the ground. This bow originally belonged to Lord Shiva, and it took hundreds of men just to move into the sacrificial arena. Therefore only one prince, if that, in the entire world could lift it. Each person would get their chance, but their chances of success were low.

Janaka fell prey to illusion when he suddenly had a favorite. The winner of the contest would marry Janaka’s daughter Sita, so the king wasn’t too concerned with the exact nature of the victor. As long as someone would win that would be good enough for Janaka. But when he saw this handsome youth arrive accompanied by His younger brother and spiritual guide, the king suddenly had a vested interest. He wanted this youth, named Rama, to win the contest and marry his daughter. After the many other princes at the assembly failed to even move the bow, the spiritual guide asked Janaka if Rama could take a shot at it.

Lord RamaJanaka replied with doubt. It’s not that the sage Vishvamitra was wrong to make the request. Janaka certainly would allow Rama to try to lift the bow, but he was worried about the outcome. He didn’t want Rama to lose and then get embarrassed. How was such a beautiful youth going to move something as hard as steel?

In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, we see Vishvamitra’s reply. The sage playfully chuckles at Janaka’s words and then offers some sound advice. Rama’s vision is so beautiful that one need only think of it in order to have the bad elements caused by illusion disappear. The illusion in this case caused Janaka to hesitate in allowing Rama to try to lift the bow. Vishvamitra could have told Janaka that he was wrong and that one shouldn’t be deceived by an external vision, but when you’re so invested in an outcome it’s hard to overcome opposing elements that feed your fear.

Vishvamitra offered the easier approach: remember Rama. “Just look at Him,” the sage said. By doing that, the worry would disappear. Rama is God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead actually, as mentioned in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India. The point to take away here is rather obvious: think of God to overcome illusion. You just have to remember Him when you’re feeling doubtful, and that remembrance essentially acts like a torchlight of knowledge. It helps you see in the dark.

“He [King Muchukunda] could see also that the dense darkness within the mountain cave had already been dissipated due to the Lord’s presence; therefore He could not be other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He knew very well that wherever the Lord is personally present by His transcendental name, quality, form, etc., there cannot be any darkness of ignorance. He is like a lamp placed in the darkness; He immediately illuminates a dark place.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 50)

Lord VishnuRama is also Krishna, which is the original form of the Supreme Lord. Krishna’s name means all-attractive, and that attraction inherently speaks of a form. That form itself is self-illuminating, a fact shown one time in an encounter with King Muchukunda. The king had been sleeping in a cave for a long time, but when Krishna entered suddenly there was a glowing light. The king could see Krishna without a problem, and so the self-effulgent Krishna acted to dissipate the illusion caused by darkness.

Rama is considered a personal expansion of Krishna, and so His transcendental body is also all-attractive. Looking at it alone can remove doubts, and the more qualified you are to look at that wonderful vision, the more benefits you will receive. Sukriti, or meritorious credits, can come through good work, that which is in line with virtue. In assessing merits, one would have to rank those which bring a greater reward to be superior. There is no better reward than thinking of God, as the soul’s business is to be a lover of God. Therefore the sukriti that comes from remembering Rama is automatically the best. And the best merits always overcome demerits, which in the case of Janaka related to his fear that Rama would lose the contest. While Rama’s vision originally caused the worry in Janaka, the same vision, repeatedly glanced at, would dissipate the bad elements. This was the point stressed by Vishvamitra.

In the material world we are daily a victim to the influence of the illusion known as maya. Know that remembrance of God is the easiest and most effective way to dissipate the illusion. Being able to see clearly, the devotee gets an unobstructed view of the most wonderful vision. Janaka and the rest of the pious souls assembled there that famous day would get to see the heartwarming image of a victorious Rama reuniting with His eternal consort Sita. Illusion cannot survive in that scene, and so anyone who makes it the home for their eyes will not be troubled by the dark elements of this world.

In Closing:

Fog of illusion in front to stay,

How to get it out of my way?


Someone else can tell me to see clear,

Thus send away illusion’s fear.


Better if I have my own light,

In darkness to bring gift of sight.


With beautiful Shri Rama such is the case,

Transcendental light beams from toe to face.


Listen to muni, image of Rama think,

And to abyss watch all maladies sink.

Categories: janaki mangala

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