“Giving up His very valuable upper garments, that very celebrated one put aside any thoughts of the kingdom and told me to stay with His mother.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.26)
sa vihāya uttarīyāṇi mahāarhāṇi mahāyaśāḥ ||
visṛjya manasā rājyam jananyai mām samādiśat |
There is no doubt that renunciation brings some respect. An easy way to build a good reputation is to voluntarily give up things. The more valuable those things are, the faster the reputation builds. A person who is known to all, irrespective of language, country of birth, and period of time, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Given a bad name by the ignorant and praised to the hilt by the wise, He is not phased by what others think of Him. All are His children after all, so His affection is without limitation and without conditions. Part of that affection is giving them an idea of His nature, and one aspect to that nature is full renunciation. In His descent as Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord provided some clarity into the meaning of full renunciation.
If you renounce something as simple as alcohol, you’ll get some reactions for sure:
“Wait, are you not drinking today or not ever again? What do you mean you won’t drink anymore? Is everything alright? Is your health okay? I couldn’t do it. That’s just too hard for me. I like kicking back and relaxing with a few beers after a tough day of work. If I couldn’t drink on the weekends, I’d have nothing to look forward to throughout the week. You are a special person indeed for having given this up.”
If you renounce eating meat, gambling, and illicit sex you’ll get similar reactions. You might get some negative attention too, but in one area your respect will likely rise quickly. If you give away any kind of wealth, people will have little negative to say about you.
“I know that person is rich, but look at how much they do for charity. They’ve given millions of dollars over the years. They are determined to help the less fortunate in society. They drive around in an ordinary car, live in a small house, and don’t flaunt what they have. They are the ideal role model. They should be in government, if you ask me. We could use leaders like them.”
Every aspect of the Supreme Lord is valuable, especially in His majestic form of Narayana. Narayana is the source of all men, the entity from whom all other living forces emanate. He lies down to take rest, and effortlessly many universes manifest. This happens through His breathing, inhaling and exhaling. When exhaling, the planets come to be and get populated with creatures. When inhaling, everything gets destroyed. Thus time is an instrument working in between Narayana’s breathing, which to us is known to be an involuntary action. We don’t think about breathing. When we do, we start to panic.
Narayana descended to earth as Shri Rama many thousands of years ago. He played the role of a warrior prince. He lived opulently in Ayodhya, but He was not attached to anything in His possession. He proved this one time when He was asked to leave the kingdom for fourteen years. Just prior to this He was set to be installed as the new king, by His father Dasharatha, who was the present ruler. Then plans changed suddenly.
Time works at Narayana’s direction, so Rama did not panic when He heard the news. Instead of being the richest person in the land, He would have to become the poorest. Sita Devi here says that Rama cast aside His very costly garments. If we have clothes that are old and worn out, it is pretty easy to get rid of them. Perhaps if they have sentimental value, we’ll hold on to them. If something is more expensive, we don’t want to just give it away. We should at least get something back for it, we think.
Rama took nothing back in return. As easy as one would cast aside something insignificant, Rama gave away His upper garments. He was to now live like an ascetic, which meant wearing the simplest clothes. Rama is not poor. He is not a daridra-narayana. He has Sita Devi as His wife, and she is the goddess of fortune. Wherever Rama goes, He can have expensive jewelry and clothes created on the spot.
In this example, He shows what real renunciation is. He shows that the only thing important to Him is the welfare of His children, and the highest welfare for them is remembrance of Him. They are all His amshas, or expansions from Him, and due to life in the material world they are struggling very hard. The senses give them trouble, and the mind is included in the list of senses. So when the mind figures out to remember constantly Rama, the troubles vanish.
mamaivāṁśo jīva-lokejīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥmanaḥ-ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇiprakṛti-sthāni karṣati
“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.7)
Rama is willing to do anything to reawaken the remembrance that is naturally inside of every person. He gives up costly garments to show that in God there is full renunciation. He shows strength by not being attached to personal honors. He lives for the honor of those who live for service to Him, and in renouncing the kingdom as such He gave support to the father Dasharatha. The devotees return the favor by always praising Him and describing Him truthfully, as Sita does here for Shri Hanuman.
From lying down and breathing,
New universes gone and seeing.
For Narayana poverty never there,
Fortune goddess can create anywhere.
By Rama still full renunciation shown,
Gave away everything His own.
The honor of Dasharatha to protect,
One of Lord’s qualities for us to detect.
Categories: sita and hanuman