“The truly valorous Rama only gives; He does not take. He does not speak even a few unpleasing words, even to save His life.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.25)
dadyān na pratigṛhṇīyān na brūyat kiṃcit apriyam ||
api jīvita hetoḥ hi rāmaḥ satya parākramaḥ |
It is human nature to try to do everything to preserve life. After all, who knows for sure what lies beyond? As far as we’re concerned, there may not even be an afterlife. Though things change at every second, with life continuing, lacking memory of previous deaths there is uncertainty over what will happen in the future. Therefore the best option is to preserve life to the best extent possible, even to the point of breaking from your nature.
The truly valorous person does not abandon duty, even to save themselves. There are stories that during the 9-11 attacks in New York City several police officers that were inside were warned that the buildings were about to collapse. Still, they refused to leave behind any people. In essence, they knew their lives were in serious danger and they still did not give up their duty. To the point of death they abided by what they promised to do when they first accepted their roles.
As we are living entities endowed with independence, free will and desires, it is practically impossible to always stay on the straight and narrow path. If you’re in a group situation where one person constantly picks on you, after a while there will be a breaking point. As much as you try to repress your anger, it may eventually come out. You’ll then do something that you regret later on.
The regrettable acts can be large or small. The large act is committing a crime, such as through doing serious bodily injury to another. The small act is saying something unpleasant. Calling a person a bad name is one example of this. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Sita Devi says that her husband Rama will not even speak a few unpleasant words. Even if it means saving His life, Rama will stay true to being always charitable, not taking from anyone.
There is a specific context to these words. In the verses immediately preceding this, Sita gave a basic summary of historical events. She explained to Shri Hanuman who she was, from where she came, and how she reached her current predicament. Here she is in the Ashoka grove in Lanka, speaking to someone who is working for her husband Rama. Sita is separated from her husband due to the ill-motivated Ravana, the king of Lanka.
Sita and Rama were living peacefully and happily in Ayodhya. Then Rama’s father decided to make Rama the new king. But on the eve of the coronation the plans changed. Rama took the new order in stride. He was now to leave the kingdom for fourteen years and wander the wilderness as a recluse.
Sita mentions that Rama always gives. He does this through His wife, who is the goddess of fortune. Shri Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead appearing in a seemingly human form. He is the original owner of everything; so He has no need to take things from people. Possession already changes hands through the work of time, which operates under Rama’s direction. One person finds a new land, plants a flag on it, and then claims it to be theirs, not knowing that through time’s progression they will have to leave not only the land, but everything they think is theirs behind forever.
Though Rama was promised the kingdom, it was suddenly taken away from Him without just cause. He had every right to take it, but that is not His nature. He could have taken it to prevent the life of hardships in the wilderness. Imagine becoming homeless overnight. This is the closest comparison we can make in modern times. The wilderness is more dangerous, though, and there aren’t wealthy people around to make donations of sumptuous food.
Rama had every right to speak unpleasant words on this occasion. He could have chastised His father for the mistake in judgment. He could have taken the angle that the new order would cause grief to Sita. It would break the heart of Lakshmana, Rama’s younger brother who was so close to Him. Yet Rama did not do any of these things. Being truly valorous, even to save His life He will not speak unpleasant words.
It is no wonder, then, that the people of the highest character love Him so much. They eschew material desires in favor of service to Him. Though Rama does not take, He will accept. Any offering made with love is accepted by Him. He does not keep anything for Himself; He distributes the offerings to others, who are supremely benefitted as a result. The truly valorous one promises to protect any who surrender to Him, and so the wise souls accept His shelter through the potency of His holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Changing desires shifting mental state,
Thus hard to stay on path narrow and straight.
But Rama different, by change not swayed,
Like when father news of exile conveyed.
That son not to speak bad words even to save His life,
Truly valorous, testimony from Sita His wife.
Accepts when genuine offering to make,
But always a giver, never from one to take.
Categories: sita and hanuman