“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 |
To whom should you go to get the things that you want? Your parents? The government? Your friends? Do you even need to go to anyone? Can’t you do everything on your own? Why not be independent instead of relying on others for your happiness? From the Ramayana we come to understand that one person is always giving; He never takes. He never speaks an unpleasant word to someone who comes to Him in a nonthreatening manner. He also happens to be the origin of all matter and spirit. The full combination makes Him the best person to approach.
ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavomattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartateiti matvā bhajante māṁbudhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ
“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)
Asking the parents:
“Dad, can I have twenty dollars? My friends and I are going to the movies. I know you just gave me some money last week, but I spent it already. I bought a new video game. I know I could be playing it now, but at this time I don’t feel like it. I promise I’ll pay you back soon. I know I have other games that are lying there, but why are you giving me such a hard time? I’m only asking for twenty dollars.”
Asking the government:
“I need more assistance. I have a child along the way, and what you’re giving me each month isn’t cutting it. I know that the government is running a large budget deficit. I know that they’ve amassed more debt in the last six years than the entire history of the nation previous to that combined. I’ve been spending the money you’ve been giving me. I took that job you recommended to me, but I still need some help. Aren’t you supposed to look out for people like me? Why are you giving me such a hard time?”
Asking the friends:
“Hey, I don’t feel like going to that restaurant. I know we went there last week at your suggestion. I know that I liked it, but I can’t do the same thing all the time. Can we go somewhere else, please? I promise to let you have your pick next week. Why are you being so difficult? Just listen to me once; it won’t be a problem again.”
Indeed, we ask so many things from so many people throughout the course of a lifetime. Are we asking for the right things? Are we approaching the right people? For starters, the wants constantly change. We ask for little things, and then we ask for big things. Accompanying birth in a material body is forgetfulness. Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita says that He is that forgetfulness, along with the remembrance that enables us to act with some intelligence as soon as we exit the womb.
“The living entity forgets as soon as he quits his present body, but he begins his work again, initiated by the Supreme Lord. Although he forgets, the Lord gives him the intelligence to renew his work where he ended his last life. So not only does a living entity enjoy or suffer in this world according to the dictation from the Supreme Lord situated locally in the heart, but he receives the opportunity to understand Vedas from Him.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15 Purport)
Since we forget, we don’t fully appreciate what others do for us. The wants that they satisfy give birth to new wants, which means that there is a new focus of attention. Never mind that what I wanted before didn’t give me lasting happiness. Never mind that my friends, my parents, the government and anyone else who can help me have to deal with their own issues. They have their own wants, and they are not perfect in their capacity to help. My immediate satisfaction takes priority.
There is another option. Obviously we are full of wants, so why not take our requests to someone who is fully capable? There is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is a better description for the generic term “god.” God can be anyone. Godly status gets bestowed on anyone who exhibits extraordinary ability. Thoughts get inserted into this God’s head, and the mind invents ways that God will be pleased.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Sita Devi gives us some intimate information about who God is and how He behaves. He is a person who descends to earth from time to time. When He roams the land as Rama, He never takes. This is because He plays the role of a warrior prince, whose job it is to govern, protect and defend. Rama always gives to others. This makes Him a perfect candidate for solving our problems.
So if we want some money, we can go to Rama. If we want to get rid of our stress, Rama can help us. If we want to be free of all our wants, Rama can do that too. And He won’t get angry about our changing wants. He won’t utter a bad word if we go to Him with sincerity. Even if we waste His time, He does not get upset. He does not mind that one person goes to Him with one request and another person comes to Him asking for the complete opposite thing.
The secret in approaching Rama is that we may not always get what we want. This is a great boon, in fact. In the other routes, our wants go to waste. New desires spring up, and the previously met ones don’t provide lasting happiness. In approaching Rama, we get the gift of devotion. He makes this happen through mechanisms specific to the circumstance. For one person it may be through giving a little good fortune in the short term. For another person it might mean taking away everything that is dear to them.
By approaching Rama in the right mood, and by consistently going to Him and staying with Him, eventually the wants transform. They consolidate into a single request: continued devotion. This is what Hanuman asks for. He has done so much for so many important people that he is worthy of any gift that the most powerful person could offer. And yet he only asks to have devotion to Rama. The same goes for Sita, who kindly informs the world about Rama’s true nature.
So many wants are wasted, in lifetime after lifetime, but by approaching the husband of Sita every desire, action, thought, and result has lasting significance. Hanuman’s brave trek to Lanka to find Sita pays dividends to this day, and not only to him. Sita’s kind and accurate words live on, and the sound of the chanting of the holy names by the devoted souls carries through both the infinite time and space: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
To ask people for this and that,
Changing desires, not sure what to ask exact.
Instead of so many of them to waste,
Towards Rama go for a higher taste.
Through Him make your requests,
And by purified desires be blessed.
Only to serve, like Sita and Hanuman do,
His mercy to do the most good for you.
Categories: sita and hanuman