“Previous to that in fact, the greatly fortunate Saumitra, who is the delight of his friends, adorned with tree bark for preparing for the journey with his elder brother.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.28)
prāg eva tu mahābhāgaḥ saumitriḥ mitra nandanaḥ ||
pūrvajasya anuyātrā arthe druma cīraiḥ alamkṛtaḥ |
The Supreme Lord has control over all circumstances. He never accidentally falls into a bad situation. He never comes upon something unexpected. This means that one can analyze His different actions and take lessons from all facets. For instance, in the Ramayana, God in His seemingly human form of Rama one time left the kingdom of Ayodhya for fourteen years. The one incident speaks so much about God and His possession of the opulence of renunciation. It also shows His supreme love for those who are devoted to Him. There were two people who went with Rama, and we can learn something from them as well.
It’s a Friday night. The past week at work was difficult. You want to relax and forget about your troubles. You know that you have to do it all over again the next week. This is how time operates. It influences everything except the essence of identity, the spirit soul. This difference is one way to understand spiritual life. Before getting caught up in the different spiritual traditions, before even referencing the divine figures who operate at the direction of the one Supreme God, there is an easy way to understand religion: it is the study of the one thing on which time does not operate.
The weekend is when time gets forgotten. So you want to hang out with your closest friends, but there’s one problem. There’s someone else that wants to tag along. This is a friend of a friend. You find this person to be extremely annoying. They don’t stop talking. Since you have a difficult time speaking harshly to others, this person has made you the target for their nonstop blabbering. It’s as if they know they are annoying you and getting a kick out of it.
There’s nothing you can do in this situation. If you tell your friend, they will get offended. If you try to avoid the situation, you’re left by yourself. Therefore you have to tolerate. Just because you are with people, it doesn’t mean that you like all of them. The material nature operates in such a fashion that the preferred condition isn’t always present. Winter comes to take away the warmth of summer. Then the same summer arrives again to bring its scorching heat.
mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteyaśītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha-dāḥāgamāpāyino ‘nityāstāṁs titikṣasva bhārata
“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)
Among His many attributes, God is nice. He is the very definition of kind. We know this from His travels as the Supersoul. The individual soul is the defining feature to a living being. Time operates on the body, but not the soul. Within that same body is another soul, and it is a little different in nature. It is supreme and identical in all beings. This superior soul is an expansion of God, which means that the Lord accompanies every living being, no matter where they go. The influence of time can bring them to the lowest species even, but God will still be there.
tān ahaṁ dviṣataḥ krūrānsaṁsāreṣu narādhamānkṣipāmy ajasram aśubhānāsurīṣv eva yoniṣu
“Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 16.19)
There is the kindness in the extension of the Supersoul to all species, and there is also the kind nature exhibited by the Personality of Godhead when He appears on this earth. Shri Rama is one such appearance, and He was known to be extremely kind. He was so nice that when something important was taken away from Him at the last moment without just cause, He did not get upset. He took the news in stride.
The change in plans not only took away the kingdom from Rama, but it made Him shift residences. Instead of a palace, He would have to call the forest His home. Instead of a fixed address, He would have to roam from place to place. Two people came along with Rama. There was His wife Sita Devi, who described the situation many years later to Shri Hanuman, a friend of Rama’s. She told Hanuman that she prepared to go to the forest even before Rama, for she did not prefer to live without Him. You could put her in the heavenly realm, but if Rama wasn’t there she wouldn’t be happy.
Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana is the other person who came along. We know that Rama is nice. We know that He has a hard time refusing people. Does this mean that Lakshmana and Sita annoyed Him by insisting on following? How do we know that Rama preferred their company? Perhaps Rama was too kind to refuse them.
Sita Devi gives us the answer. She says that Lakshmana is the delight of his friends. He is also the beloved son of Sumitra, one of the queens in Ayodhya. She mentions these things intentionally. Sita wants Hanuman to know that Lakshmana came along to make Rama happy. Giving him higher praise than she gave herself, she also mentions that Lakshmana was prepared to go to the forest even before her. He adorned himself with the garb of an ascetic, which consists of clothes made of tree bark.
Lakshmana delights his friends, and Rama is much more than a friend. Lakshmana is the great delight of his elder brother, who is the delight of the Ikshvaku dynasty of kings. Sita makes Rama so happy as well, so He never minds when they come along. Rama’s nature is such that He never denies a soul surrendered at His feet. He never finds their service to Him annoying, which means that in bhakti-yoga one can be assured that their service will be pleasing to the person who matters most.
A night out with friends to make,
The annoying one with you to take.
Tolerate them you must,
Lest you lose a friend to trust.
When of Rama’s exile knowing,
Lakshmana immediately set on going.
That brother to his friends a delight,
So Rama not annoyed in the slight.
Categories: sita and hanuman