From Taking To Giving

[Rama's lotus feet]“Entrusting Sita and all daughters to Him, again and again looking at Rama, with folded hands she requested:” (Janaki Mangala, 167)

sīya sahita saba sutā saunpi kara jorahin |
bāra bāra raghunāthahi nirakhi nihorahin ||

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In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna says that four kinds of people approach Him when they are initially interested in devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. Some want money. Some are distressed and want to attain peace. Some are genuinely inquisitive, and some actually know things as they are and want to know more about God Himself. Regardless the initial reason for entering genuine spiritual life, once safely inside the constitutional engagement, the attitude changes from wanting to giving. Here we see the queen of a famous land entrusting her most precious daughters to the Supreme Lord, and she would not be the loser for it.

Bhagavad-gita, 7.16“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me – the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)

It is quite natural to ask for things from God. “O Lord, please give me the strength to fight through this. O Lord, hear our prayer for the wellbeing of our friends and family. O Lord, this person is really struggling. Please shower your mercy upon them and lift them up from peril.” A step above asking for things is giving thanks for what you already have. “O Lord, thank you for the wonderful feast that sits before us. Thank you for our kind family. Thank you for our health. We pray that we may never forget what You have done for us.” Along these lines, there is the weekly visit to the house of prayer. Just following a basic practice like this makes one unique in society.

In bhakti-yoga, the attitude reaches the pinnacle of perfection. Never mind what we seek from the Lord for our personal benefit. Never mind giving thanks for what He has already provided us. In pure devotional service, the attitude is to offer everything that one has for the Lord’s satisfaction. And whether He directly reciprocates or not, the offerings continue. In fact, there is nothing He can do to stop the outpouring of affection. There is no way for Him to repay the deeds of His devotees, who thus earn a very exalted status. They control God instead of the other way around.

In this scene from the Janaki Mangala, the queen Sunayana looks like she is about to ask God for something. So does that put her in the neophyte category? Does she want money? Does she want good health? Actually, here she is entrusting the care of her daughters to Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord in a personal form so kind that He walked this earth and allowed noted biographers like Maharishi Valmiki and Goswami Tulsidas to employ their mastery over poetry to preserve those sacred deeds for all future generations of man to reference.

[Valmiki writing the Ramayana]Those daughters, headed by Sita, were the most important people in the world to the queen. Sita was the eldest and she was marrying Rama. As the new husband, Rama was to protect Sita for the rest of her life. No more could the mother give guidance on a daily basis. Sort of like seeing your kids off to their first year of college away from home, the queen would never have her daughters living in her home again. With love in her heart she offered everything to God, and she did not lose anything.

Here she is about to ask Him to remember her and all the people in Janakpur. If the devoted soul is willing to make such a kind offering, then how is it possible for the Lord to ever forget? Indeed, just a sacrifice of time is enough to catch His eye. The souls who have passed through the stages of asking for things from God and merely thanking Him employ their time in chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They act in such a way that Rama will never forget them. They entrust their thoughts, words and deeds to Him, and He not only takes care of them but grants them His association in the consciousness, an association to remain forever.

Bhagavad-gita, 9.26“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 9.26)

[Flower offered to Rama]As recently as a few hundred years ago, land ownership was quite common, even encouraged. As the poorest person still had a small plot of land, they had the ability to make a genuine offering to the Supreme Lord. A flower, a leaf, some fruit, or even a little water offered in honesty and love is wholeheartedly accepted. In the so-called advanced times, where land ownership isn’t as common, one can still go to the local supermarket and pick up a single piece of fruit for an offering. It is the sentiment which counts most, and in the mother of Sita the love for Rama was completely pure.

In Closing:

In initial stage humble prayer to make,

As desire is gifts from Lord to take.


When to advance through stages higher,

In giving everything to God never to tire.


When Shri Rama to home about to leave,

Wonderful prayer from queen to receive.


Asked that in their hearts He’d always stay,

Wish granted, their affection not possible to repay.

Categories: janaki mangala

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