“Indeed, this is not a dream, for I certainly cannot sleep, tormented by grief and distress as I am. Certainly there is no happiness for me when I am devoid of the association of He who has a face resembling the full moon.” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 32.10)
svapno api na ayam na hi me asti nidrā |
śokena duhkhena ca pīḍitāyāḥ |
sukham hi me na asti yato asmi hīnā |
tena indu pūrṇa pratima ānanena ||
Since it is dark I can only guess as to that sound I heard within the room. There is no light indeed, so how am I to know for sure? That same darkness prevents me from knowing the exact time in the day. I don’t know how many hours are left until daylight unless I have something like a clock to help me. In the bigger picture there is the darkness of the material existence covering the otherwise knowledgeable soul. As Sita Devi points out, the image of the Supreme Lord is like a full moon to vanquish that darkness.
Do I know who I am? What does “I am” mean? Who is this “I” that gets constantly invoked in my speech? Who is that “you” addressed when others speak in my direction? Covered by darkness, in confusion I think that the “I” relates to my country of origin.
“I am an American. I was born in the greatest land on earth. No one has ever been so free. We have the most unique system of government ever devised by man. Previously the majority of the world lived under tyranny. There was no hope for them. Whatever they were born into, they were stuck in. There was no mechanism to get ahead. Then a little miracle happened known as the Constitution. It granted rights to every citizen, supported by the Declaration of Independence, which stated that all men are created equal. I am proud to live in such a country.”
Indeed, official documents identify me with the country of origin. So this identification is valid in many instances, confirmed by higher authorities. But what about people from a different nation? Do they not feel happiness and sadness? Do they not get excited over upcoming events? Do they not go through the same cycle of birth and death? Of course they do, which means that my identification based solely off of country is not complete. Others take birth in different lands, and so that does not make them inherently different.
Then there is identification based on occupation:
“I am a doctor. I love what I do. I heal the sick. It took a lot of work to earn this title. I spent many years studying. Not just a few nights here and there, I had to memorize so much for so long. Then I had to go through years of training, all the while racking up a mountain of debt. Now that I am a doctor, I feel so satisfied. Everyone refers to me as ‘doctor’ and I love it. I am respected throughout the community.”
Again, this identification is valid in certain circumstances, especially at the place of business. But what about the carpenter? How about the policeman? Are they inherently different because they perform different work? Obviously not, since they just use different skills in their place of business. So occupation is not the sole criteria for identification, either. As occupation is related to work and achievement, we can rule out any identification based on similar characteristics.
The real identity of the individual is spirit soul. The only way to regain knowledge of that identity is with the help of the Supreme Lord. Since He is a person, purusha, who is above the mode of darkness, tamo-guna, one of His many names is Purushottama. In the verse quoted above He is referenced as Ramachandra, the prince of the Raghu dynasty who has a moonlike countenance.
Though the words spoken here are real and part of an amazing history documented in the Ramayana, they also nicely symbolize the struggle of the living entity conditioned by material nature. Sita Devi is Rama’s wife. She is a divine figure, incapable of ever not thinking of Rama. Thus she is never in darkness. She knows her identity all the time, and so she is never in ignorance.
The factual scene also symbolizes the struggle for the living entity. Sita is in Lanka, which is full of darkness. The people live in total ignorance of their true identity, mistaking wine and meat for their reason for living. The leaders consider enjoying with as many women as possible to be the true achievement in life. The king, Ravana, tried to enjoy Sita for himself, but she refused him. Therefore Sita found herself alone in a grove of Ashoka trees, longing for the association of her husband.
Here she says that Rama’s face resembles that of a full moon. In the night sky, that moon provides a soothing light. And so Rama would dissipate the darkness in Lanka. He would fix everything, bringing hope to an otherwise dreary situation. Here Rama’s presence is felt in His name and also in His representative Hanuman. Hanuman came to give Sita news of Rama, which is the same as shining the bright moonlike face of that handsome prince.
The name that Sita always remembered also gave her hope in an otherwise dreadful situation. So the living entities suffering in darkness can always chant the holy names of the Lord and wait for the association of His representative. The signal for help is the sound of the holy names repeated in sequence: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
In which country birth to take,
My true identity it can make?
Varied, with work the foundation,
What about then my occupation?
Since characteristics to change all the time,
Flawed this way to get identity of mine.
A spirit soul is who I truly am,
To remain the same through time’s span.
In darkness this I do not know,
Waiting for light to shine ever so.
In Lanka, the one with the moonlike face,
To save Sita, her agony by joy to be erased.
Darkness of ignorance, all others in boat the same,
To be rescued by chanting her husband’s name.
Categories: spotting hanuman