Dying a Happy Man

[Sita Devi's hand]“Hearing those words of that monkey, and looking around at all quarters and all regions, Sita was remembering Rama fully and obtained a supreme thrill of delight.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.18)

niśamya sītā vacanam kapeśca |
diśaśca sarvāḥ pradiśaśca vīkṣya |
svayam praharṣaṃ paramaṃ jagāma |
sarvātmanā rāmamanusmarantī ||

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If you haven’t figured it out by now, you can’t stay in your present body forever. To let you in on another little secret: you’ve already discarded so many bodies. You’ll never get your youth back. You’ll never again be the same size you were when you first learned to walk. Since you can look back on that time today, it means that whatever it is that defines you does not relate to the body. The event known as death is when you have to give up everything related to this body, including memory. That memory is part of the subtle body consisting of mind, intelligence and false ego. The soul is transcendental to all of this, and so it remains alive after this current body gets left behind for good.

bhūmir āpo ‘nalo vāyuḥ

khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca

ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me

bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā

“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego – altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.4)

Since you, I, and everyone else are destined to give up our bodies, what is the best way to live? More specifically, is there one thing that we could accomplish that would allow us to die in peace? The phrase, “Now I can die a happy man,” speaks to this issue. Perhaps if you live long enough to see the birth of your great-grandchildren you will feel as if everything is alright. Perhaps if you met all your financial goals, where you had enough money to support you and your family, you would feel at peace at the time of death. From this verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman again teaches us so much. By this description we see that he has reached the best achievement in life. Indeed, anyone who accomplishes the same can very easily die a happy man. Yet Hanuman continues on, showing that in the highest state of consciousness the activity is endless.

[Lord Rama]What exactly has he done that is so special? He simply described Rama. He started by describing Rama’s father on earth, King Dasharatha. Why should talking about a king be so important? Hanuman accurately described that famous ruler of Ayodhya appearing in the Ikshvaku dynasty. Though he roamed this earth so many thousands of years ago, Dasharatha led an exemplary life. He fulfilled his commitments to his citizens, his preceptors, the governors of material affairs residing in the heavenly realm, and the forefathers. He did everything with detachment, keeping an eye on everyone’s welfare at the same time.

To that great king appeared a son named Rama. Not an ordinary person with a Sanskrit name that means “the source of all transcendental pleasure,” this was THE Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in a wonderful incarnation form. So while sitting atop a tree branch, hidden from view in the Ashoka grove, Hanuman described Dasharatha and Rama. Though such an exercise brings so much joy on its own, Hanuman had another purpose. The words were meant to reach the ears of Sita, Rama’s wife.

This verse from the Ramayana says that Sita experienced a supreme thrill of delight. Paramam means “supreme” and praharsham means “supreme joy” or “thrill of delight.” Imagine the happiest moment of your life, when you felt a thrill. Take that moment and then put the adjective “supreme” in front of it and you get an idea of what Sita felt like from hearing Hanuman’s words.

[Sita and Rama]The words didn’t just sound good. It wasn’t like listening to an ordinary song with a nice melody. The words had a specific effect. They allowed Sita to remember Rama in full. Sarvatmana means “in all ways” or “without any reservations.” This is worth mentioning here because the situation was such that remembering anyone dear to Sita was difficult. At the time she was separated from Rama, and not by choice. The evil king of Lanka took her away by force in secret. Seeing that she would not give in to his sexual advances, Ravana ordered his cruelest attendants to harass and threaten Sita day and night.

Remembering Rama fully became viable because Hanuman described Him so well. So he brought Sita supreme delight in a situation where she really needed it. Thus Hanuman’s achievement stands alone. Bringing delight to someone so dear to the Supreme Lord is enough to fulfill life’s mission. Nothing can be done to take away that achievement, and so it is no wonder that Hanuman is so dear to both Sita and Rama.

And yet Hanuman’s work was not done. Though he had already accomplished more than was asked of him, he would continue to work to please Sita and Rama. This means that spiritual life is an endless engagement. It is not a race to the finish, for even meeting the highest objective of pleasing someone so wonderful as Sita does not mean that everything stops. Hanuman allowed Sita to remember Rama, and Valmiki allows us to remember Hanuman. And a saint in the line of spiritual succession allows us to remember Valmiki and other previous saints. The chain continues, with boundless excitement in store for whoever is fortunate enough to lend time to hearing about topics of the Supreme Lord.

In Closing:

Death to happen, my words believe,

So how life’s true mission to achieve?

 

A trick really, no end is meant,

When time in bhakti-yoga spent.

 

Hanuman to Sita bringing supreme thrill,

Thoughts of Rama in her mind to fill.

 

Though highest achievement he got,

In bhakti his work never to stop.

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