“Then I was quickly ready to depart for becoming a forest dweller even ahead of Him, as when lacking His association even residence in heaven is not to my liking.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.27)
sā aham tasya agrataḥ tūrṇam prasthitā vana cāriṇī ||
na hi me tena hīnāyā vāsaḥ svarge api rocate |
“Listen, I need to discuss something with you. It’s important. Are you ready? Okay, I think you’ve been too much into this bhakti-yoga thing lately. I’ve heard all your preaching and I’ve even read some of the books you’ve shown me. And you don’t need to convince me of the need for reading the Bhagavad-gita. I follow the teachings in my own life. I’ve had one on my bookshelf since before you were born. I’ve kept the image of Arjuna and Krishna in the chariot in my mind since before I can remember.
The thing I’m concerned with is your total lack of interest in anything else. You are so young still. Instead of going out with your friends on a Friday night, all I hear from your room is ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.’ It sounds nice; I must admit that. I’m glad that you’re taking an interest in spiritual things. I’m proud of you for that.
But I don’t want you giving up on life so early. You should enjoy a little. Man has responsibility to his society, to his community. We’ve discussed this before, so I won’t go into great detail again. Let me ask you this: what will it take to get you to tone down the bhakti a little? I don’t want you to forget God. I don’t want you to suddenly think that this world was created through some random collision of chemicals and that through some intelligent manipulation of those chemicals you can somehow cheat death. No, no, I want you to stay pious.
But just relax a little. Don’t go so crazy. What is it going to take to get you to bring it down? I’m willing to do pretty much anything. Name your price. Don’t consider me to be a bad person. I’m only looking out for you. Go ahead, don’t be shy. What do you want?”
This hypothetical situation isn’t difficult to imagine. When having children, who actually imagines them growing up to be surrendered souls to the Supreme Personality of Godhead? Who hopes to get lessons on detachment, karma and the material nature from their young offspring? When bhakti-yoga practice reaches the stage of purification, no amount of money can convince the person to shift their attention elsewhere.
In this situation, the offer is from a parent, but consider the material nature as a whole. What if you could get whatever you wanted? To more easily comprehend just what is available to be had, take the three categories of bhukti, mukti and siddhi. In bhukti you can get anything material to enjoy. Think of it like having a first class chef living in your house. You don’t need to go online to shop; the retailers make house calls. They bring you samples of the latest items as soon as they are released. The top fashion designers come to your home to get your input on future designs.
You don’t have to wait on the long lines at the airport. You have your own private jet. A driver whisks you away to wherever you want to go. A personal assistant handles all communication. If someone wants to speak with you, they must go through the assistant first. Their job is to always reject initially. You have trouble saying “no,” so you pay someone to do it for you. This begins to explain the life of full enjoyment in bhukti.
You can get the opposite as well, namely mukti. You won’t have anyone to bother you. You’ll get residence in any isolated area of your choosing. You’ll be able to mature to the point that you won’t have to do anything. Think of it like an out of body experience. No more pressure of waking up early in the morning. No more worrying about that pain in your stomach. No more fretting over eating right and following the straight and narrow path. You’ll get a stateless existence, which you think will make you happy.
There is siddhi also. Here you get perfection in mystic yoga. More than merely a way to maintain health, if you practice the postures and breathing of meditational yoga properly you can get amazing abilities. You can fly through the air and leave your body behind, become very large, shrink to a small size, and even get whatever you want at a moment’s notice.
Sita Devi cannot be bribed with any of these things. In this verse from the Ramayana, she discusses bhukti, the height of which is available in the heavenly realm. “Be a good person and you’ll go to heaven. Believe in God and you will surely spend eternity there.” But what exactly is heaven? What are its conditions? From the Vedas we learn that the heavenly region is a place where material delights are available in abundance. In essence, you can get your fill of bhukti.
Sita lived in a heavenly area on earth called Ayodhya. This was the regal life; she enjoyed everything there is for man to desire. Yet she renounced it in a second. This was in favor of service to her husband Rama. And by the way, Rama tried to point her in the other direction. He asked that she remain home, without Him. He had to leave the community due to promises made by His father. Rama wanted Sita to remain safe. He didn’t want her to suffer.
Here she says that life without Him is suffering, even if living in heaven. She is correct, as Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in a seemingly human form. Though He roams this earth in the second time period of creation, His thoughts, words and deeds are timeless. So is the devotion to Him shown by Sita, who exhibits a level of allegiance unfathomable to the materially conditioned mind.
She cannot be bought off. God Himself tries to persuade her to serve Him through forgetting Him in some way, and she refuses. Sita shows how the fully-surrendered bhaktas feel. They don’t mind heaven if it comes to them. They won’t refuse a siddhi if they should happen to possess it. Renunciation is fine as well, as Sita describes here how quickly she accepted the role of vana-charini, or female forest-dweller.
tapasvibhyo ‘dhiko yogījñānibhyo ‘pi mato ‘dhikaḥkarmibhyaś cādhiko yogītasmād yogī bhavārjuna
“A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.46)
The necessary ingredient is God’s association. Then any condition can be fulfilling and rewarding. Otherwise, even life in heaven will not bring lasting satisfaction to the soul. The individual soul seeks this link with the Supreme Soul, a link which is known as yoga. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna advises Arjuna to be a yogi for this very reason. Real yoga transcends everything material.
When with material life had enough,
Then even with bribe a sell tough.
To the pool of ignorance to go back,
In devotion the soul nothing to lack.
So Sita hurriedly prepared to go,
When of Rama’s exile to know.
No match are bhukti, mukti and siddhi,
When practicing perfectly yoga’s bhakti.
Categories: sita and hanuman