Testing the Material

Shri Rama's lotus feet“All kinds of flowers are raining down and in happiness everyone is saying, ‘Jaya, jaya.’ Love and happiness filled the world, and Rama went towards the guru.” (Janaki Mangala, 112)

baraṣahiṃ bibudha prasūna haraṣi kahi jaya jae |
sukha saneha bhare bhuvana rāma gura paham̐ gae ||

“Dude, have you lost your mind? You’re really celebrating that again? Haven’t you had enough? I understand it was a big deal when it happened. We were all there. We celebrated with you. It was a remarkable achievement given what you had to go through. But that was then and this is now. Normal people don’t remain stuck in the past. Most people forget about the occasion as early as a year later. If you keep celebrating it like this every day, people will think you are crazy.”

What exactly is this person referring to? Actually, it could be anything of importance. A graduation, a promotion, an award, a trophy, a triumph in sports, or even getting a driver’s license – these victories are celebrated on the day they take place, but soon afterwards they are forgotten. One can look back at those moments fondly, but to dwell on them every single day, expecting the same praise that others offered to you on the original day, is kind of silly. We mention this only because one person’s triumphs can actually be remembered every day, with the celebration marked by the repeated voicing of “jaya, jaya.” This uniqueness gives us another way to differentiate between the material and the spiritual.

For a spiritualist to discuss the material is quite normal. If you have no such interest for whatever reason then your knowledge hasn’t reached its full potential. Put a book of logic in front of an animal and they won’t know what to do with it. There is no possible way for them to understand. From what they inherited at the time of birth, the most they can do is eat, sleep, mate and defend. A human being, though, with the proper training can one day learn to open up that book and take away valuable lessons from it. That same book that looked like it was filled with gibberish soon speaks to the person on the inside, offering a way to hear what someone else previously said.

The most important books are those which discuss the difference between matter and spirit. Rare it is to hear such discussion, so one who is fortunate enough to get this information should take full advantage. The Vaishnava in the modern age feels that the information is so important that they try to distribute it to as many people as possible. The book of knowledge they rely on is the Bhagavad-gita, which chronicles an ancient conversation between a wise teacher and a sincere student. Right at the outset, the difference between matter and spirit is discussed.

Bhagavad-gita, 2.20“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)

To illustrate the difference, the teacher makes mention of the most obvious indication of that difference. Death is what has bewildered man since time immemorial. On the particular day when the Bhagavad-gita was spoken, the same death perplexed a capable and knowledgeable warrior. The teacher, Shri Krishna, explained that the individual inside the body never dies. The soul is the identifying agent, and it is immutable, unchangeable, primeval, and not slain when the body is slain. That which appears to be destroyed is only the body, which consists of matter, or the material.

As the body is not spirit, it lacks the properties of spirit. The body changes all the time. It has a beginning and an end. Technically, it is eternal just like the soul, but that is because matter is rooted in spirit. For the purposes of our interactions, matter is temporary. One who knows the spiritual and the material can make the choice to associate with the spiritual. This choice is ultimately made through consciousness. The body is the vehicle to facilitate that association. From that decision, one also acts in such a way that their knowledge of the difference doesn’t get lost.

Bhagavad-gita As It IsThe Bhagavad-gita is high philosophy that not everyone will want to hear. We can derive the same lessons, however, from studying the manner in which celebrations take place. By noting that the occasion of a graduation is only celebrated one time we can see that the occasion is material. Graduation is the completion of some kind. It is a moment in time where we have just finished our courses; therefore we celebrate. But my identity as a graduating student will soon change. Afterwards, I may become an office worker, a doctor, or a lawyer. Then I will have new things to celebrate.

I can look back to that moment of my graduation as often as I want to, but no one will want to celebrate it every single day with me. At the original celebration, perhaps many people came over to the house and my parents gave me an expensive gift. Yet they will not behave the same way ten years later. This proves that the event was related to matter, which is temporary. To think of it another way, try to keep in mind that today’s celebration of something important will be forgotten very quickly. If you’re attending a festival that you’ll forget soon afterwards, how important can it really be?

The spiritual, being everlasting, can be celebrated millions of years into the future. The above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala is one example of the fact. Here the same Shri Krishna, in His form as Lord Rama, has just been given the garland of victory by Sita Devi, His eternal consort. The Bhagavad-gita is important not just because of its lessons. It is spoken by the Supreme Lord, God for all of humanity. He may appear differently to different people, and He may not reveal Himself fully to those who are envious, but He nevertheless does exist and is a singular personality. Krishna and Rama are the same person, though they have slightly different appearances.

Celebrating Sita and RamaThe verse above describes a celebration. Rama has just lifted an amazingly heavy bow to win a contest. None of the other princes gathered at the assembly could even move the bow. These were the most notable princes in the world. They all were in Janakpur to try to lift the bow. The prize was Sita’s hand in marriage. She was the beloved daughter of the pious King Janaka. As Rama is God, it wasn’t surprising that flowers rained down from the heavens after He won the contest. We see that the people repeatedly exclaimed, “Jaya, jaya,” which means “all glories, all glories” or “victory to you.”

Happiness and good feelings filled the entire world. After placing the victory garland on Rama, Sita went back to her place with her friends. Rama went back to the guru Vishvamitra, who was responsible for bringing Him to this contest. The “jaya, jaya,” mentioned here is significant because it is the way God is still celebrated to this day. If you visit a temple dedicated to Krishna or one of His non-different expansions, there will surely be many times where “jaya, jaya” is repeated by the congregation. This is done to celebrate the Lord, His devotees, His activities, and His various holy places around the world.

The Bhagavad-gita was spoken some five thousand years ago and Rama’s lifting of the bow took place many thousands of years before that, and yet we continue to celebrate both today. This means that the events couldn’t be material. You could actually celebrate Sita and Rama’s marriage day after day and not get sick of it. It is the constitutional position of the soul to be servant of God, and one way of serving is glorifying. This glorification provides so much pleasure that one wants to repeat it over and over again.

To be fixed in this glorification, to have dedication in devotion, one should be free of envy and know of the merits of the glorification. To hear is the best way to remove doubts and ignorance. Therefore the kind Vaishnavas have authored so much invaluable literature. They hope that everyone finds the ecstasy that is their birthright. That ecstasy comes when one is fully engaged in devotional service, where they repeatedly celebrate the spiritual.

In Closing:

After friends took Sita away,

“Jaya, jaya” all did say.


Flowers from heaven were sent,

Rama back to guru’s side went.


Of temporary significance is event of today,

Pleasure diminishes when the same to replay.


With the spiritual same defect not so,

For proof back in time to Rama’s victory go.


Categories: janaki mangala

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