“It is known that He is a knower of religious principles and very much affectionate towards the surrendered souls. Thus you should make a friendship with Him, if you desire to continue living.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.20-21)
viditaḥ sa hi dharmajñaḥ śaraṇāgatavatsalaḥ ||
tena maitrī bhavatu te yadi jīvitumiccasi |
Who is a high class person? Is it someone with a lot of money? How about someone who is very skilled in a difficult craft, like a doctor or a lawyer? Is it someone who is born into a high family? Is it a member of a particular race or gender? If you believe in a supreme controller, you would have to admit that anyone who had the favor of such a controller would be in a preferred status. If that favor was in the form of affection offered from the supreme controller, the stature of the recipient would increase all the more.
From the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we see that to receive such affection is not very difficult. It simply requires surrender. That affection then brings you the most preferred status, making you the highest class person. Based on the requirement, we see that the preferred status is open for any person to take. No one is excluded based on birth, race, gender, ethnicity, income, country of origin, or other such external factors.
Of course those who do not surrender will tell you otherwise. Through their ignorance they will tell you that there are classes determined by birth. Depending on who your ancestors were, you belong to a specific classification within society. Others will make the same distinctions based on the amount of money that you have, which college you went to, what kind of food you eat, or what you like to do in your spare time.
But the truth on the matter is found in the verse itself. The person offering this truth is the Supreme Lord’s eternal consort. On earth she plays the role of a wife. The term “wife” indicates a relationship that is entered into at some time. It also implies a relationship where each party makes the choice to live up to vows. The person offering this truth is actually eternally with God. There is no choice for her. Her love for Him is what defines her. His affection for her is guaranteed. There is no way to break the relationship.
The recipient of these words tried his very best to break the condition. While she was on earth with her husband, in their respective forms of Sita and Rama, the fiend named Ravana took Sita away in secret and brought her back to his home in Lanka. Having a poor vision and thus seeing her beauty in the wrong way, he mistakenly thought that he could enjoy with her. Though Ravana already had so many beautiful wives, he was infatuated with Sita.
Because of her defining characteristic, her true nature, Sita could never be with Ravana. She could never give him affection in the way that he wanted. Ravana here has already committed the greatest offense. Sita was innocent. She had done nothing wrong. She was living peacefully with her husband Rama. Rama too had done nothing to anyone. Both Sita and Rama deserved to be left alone. As he was a great offender, we would think that Ravana would be forever prevented from attaining the highest class status.
Though his father was a priestly man of a high stature, Ravana was born with the qualities of a Rakshasa, which is like a man-eater. Think of someone who is so messed up in the head that they have no problem killing other human beings and eating them. All the while they think that they are the pious ones in society. Everyone else has it wrong, in their view.
These two conditions, one based on behavior and the other on inherent qualities belonging to a species, would apparently preclude Ravana from being a high class person. And yet Sita says that through just one act all of that could change. She says that her husband Rama is known to be well-aware of the principles of religion. He is also known to be very affectionate towards those who surrender unto Him.
Surrender here is in the context of friendship. It is not a basic profession of faith followed by complete forgetfulness of the relationship. It is not the act of attending a religious gathering once a week without putting your heart into it. Surrender here is determined by a kind act of friendship, where Ravana would return Sita to Rama. Rama would then forgive everything. He would be very affectionate towards Ravana, not caring for the demon’s past mistakes or his social status as a Rakshasa.
Just like her husband, Sita does not speak falsehoods. Therefore if it is possible for Ravana to have affection from God, then the same must be available for everyone else. The enemies of God are known as asuras, and the friends as suras. From the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” the dormant God consciousness within everyone reawakens. From that fire being sparked, the asura can turn into a sura very quickly, as with the divine consciousness one gets the helping hand of the affectionate friend known as God.
To principles of piety paid no heed,
Committed worst crime, unthinkable deed.
In spite of impious thoughts mind to fill,
For affection from God chance for him still.
Basic kind act towards Rama did need,
Then with affection from God to proceed.
No matter your money or from where you came,
Know that opportunity for favor there all the same.
Categories: ravana threatening sita