All Out of Tricks

Sita and Rama“It is not possible for me to be tempted by opulence or wealth. I am undeviatingly with Rama, like the radiance with the sun.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.15-16)

śakyā lobhayituṃ nāhamaiśvaryeṇa dhanena vā ||
ananyā rāghaveṇāhaṃ bhāskareṇa prabhā yathā |

The radiance is always tied to the sun. The sun is the source of that radiance. There is nothing you can do to change the relationship or eliminate the dependence. If you ask the radiance to go somewhere else, to separate from the sun, it ceases to be radiance. It turns into something else. As the radiance loses its intensity, it eventually withers away. With the case of Sita Devi, however, whatever one tries to do to her, her defining characteristic is always active, showing the difference between the liberated state and the conditioned state.

Conditioned can be thought of as contaminated. If something is in an impure state, it doesn’t function properly. It also can be changed. An unhealthy human being is more susceptible to disease. If you travel here and there, work out all the time to the point of exhaustion, and don’t eat properly, the diseases that are always lurking around take you as a prime target. If you are healthy, then you are strong. In full strength, it is difficult for others to attack.

The living entities are expansions of God, who is the original store of spiritual entities. He is the greatest spiritual entity, measured in terms of bliss, knowledge and eternality. We are smaller spiritual entities, which means that we inherit the same qualities but possess them at a lesser degree. In the conditioned state, we are rays from the sun that are not very strong. They can go astray, tempted into thinking that the sun doesn’t exist. In such a case, the radiance loses its potency; it is no longer soothing. It does not perform its function properly, and so all states discovered through unintended ignorance are miserable.

sun and radianceThe living entities who stay with the sun that is God in full knowledge cannot be tempted by any offer to leave their position. For the materialist who is an enemy of God, the strongest weapons used to entice others are opulence and wealth. You can use examples outside of religious life to see the same tactic in effect. Let’s say that I’ve joined a gym with one of my friends. Our intent is to go every day. We will work out sometime during the day and then gradually become fitter.

The problem is that only one of us is committed. Let’s say that it’s me. I want to work out regularly. I want to keep a regimen. I don’t like doing some things on some days and other things on other days. I’d rather generate a momentum of action. I know that lethargy gains strength the more one is inactive, like the principle of “a body at rest stays at rest.”

My friend has the opposite mentality. He hates working out. He’s regretting that we ever joined the gym. He is so happy if I have some other engagement that prevents me from going to the gym. This way he won’t have to go either. On the days where he really can’t find the will to work out, he’ll employ different tactics to get me to change my mind. He’ll make excuses. He might offer me some other opulence, like a good time somewhere else. As a last resort, he’ll try bribing me with a free gift. As we’re approaching the entrance to the gym, he might say: Hey man, let’s skip the workout today. Let’s go to your favorite restaurant right now. I’m paying. I swear. Please, let’s go.

Working out at the gymIf this last offer doesn’t work, it means that I cannot be bought off. It means that my will is too strong. When the living entity is fixed in devotional service, none of the bribes offered by the materialist can change their stance. Here Sita Devi confirms this fact. She says that she cannot be tempted by aishvarya [opulence] or dhana [valuables].

When we live in ignorance, it is very easy to be tempted by such things. If we’re not God conscious, we think that having a lot of money is the most important thing. With plenty of money, we won’t have to worry about working. Food, clothing and shelter will be accounted for throughout the rest of our stay on earth. We’ll also value opulence. “Let me have the biggest house. Let me have the fastest car. Let me have the most beautiful spouse. Then I’ll feel good about myself.”

But actually if one is not always thinking of God in the right way the journey through life is relatively the same for everyone. The animals eat, sleep, mate and defend without a problem. You can’t bribe an animal with money. You can’t give it so much food that it’ll change its habits. It goes by its instincts, which are not very refined. The human being has more intelligence, so to worry over trivial things like valuables and opulence is not very wise.

Sita is always with Rama. Her allegiance is undeviating. Because of her link in consciousness, she can be considered identical to Him. The two are worshiped together, Sita-Rama. Ravana tried to take Rama out of the picture. Yet just as the sun can’t be separated from the sunshine, so Rama cannot be removed from the spotless living entity who is Sita Devi. Her resolve was extremely strong. Her dedication to Rama defines her, so Ravana’s advances were pointless.

“And, O most fortunate one, He [Rama], who is self-controlled, is followed by His wife Sita, just as the highly-effulgent sun is followed at the end of the day by its light.” (Lakshmana speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 4.11)

Sita and RamaA similar description of Sita was previously given by Lakshmana to Hanuman. Lakshmana is Rama’s younger brother, and he follows Rama like a twin. His devotion also defines him, though it is practiced in a slightly different way. Hanuman’s devotion is also a little different in its implementation, but the defining feature is there all the same.

Every living entity is meant to have the same inseparable bond to the Supreme Lord. We are all God conscious originally, though at the moment transcendence seems far away. Through the resolve of Sita, know that wealth and good material attributes aren’t so important. They are not the goal of life. Ravana’s offers for sovereignty and control over the kingdom through becoming his chief queen were the last tricks in his bag. After that he had nothing left. Sita is Rama’s and there is nothing anyone can do about it. If we always chant the names of that beloved coupled, like the names found in the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” the allurements of this distorted reflection of the spiritual world will not be able to deviate us from our devotion to the most beloved.

In Closing:

His hopes starting to sag,

Took out last trick from bag.


Riches and opulence to suffice,

Sita away from Rama to entice.


But like radiance always by sun’s side,

Sita’s heart with Rama only to reside.


In constitutional position not to break,

From her resolve valuable life lesson take.


With God too we are meant to be,

And not illusion of matter to see.

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