Grief Upon Grief

[Shri Hanuman]“After hearing those words of Sita, who was overwhelmed with sadness upon sadness, Hanuman, the leader of the monkeys, gave the following comforting reply.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 34.1)

tasyāḥ tat vacanam śrutvā hanūmān hari yūthapaḥ |
duhkhāt duhkha abhibhūtāyāḥ sāntam uttaram abravīt ||

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Will electing someone new to lead the country solve all problems? Is the government really to blame for the grievances in society? For sure, economics could always stand for a boost. The growth rate of the gross domestic product can never be high enough; it has room for improvement. If more people worked, if more people had money to buy the things that they want, then surely that would decrease the level of discontentment.

[GDP growth]According to Vedic philosophy, change in the leadership of government alone will not fix anything. The reason is that life in this material world is like misery piled on top of misery. It is grief made worse by more grief. Think of it like receiving a package in the mail that is tightly wrapped. Through strain and effort, we get the package open, thinking that there is nothing more to be done. Then we have to remove the next layer of the packing. There are so many layers that by the end the reservoir is run dry; there is little joy left at seeing the product whose sight was once the goal.

A major source of grief is separation. Many times this happens because of our own actions. We didn’t drive safely enough on the highway, so our car got into an accident. We didn’t protect the home well enough, so it was burglarized. We didn’t watch what we ate, so we had to deal with the negative consequences in health.

In the case of a princess a long time ago, she hadn’t done anything wrong. By all accounts, she had well exceeded what was expected of a good wife. In the Vedic tradition, the husband protects and the wife serves. This doesn’t mean that she does everything. She is not compelled to earn all the money while the husband sits at home and does nothing. The idea is that she remains supportive. She is a nurturer to the children and she also takes care of the adult in the husband.

Sita’s husband was forced to leave home. Named Rama, He was the leader of the Ikshvaku dynasty, ready to succeed His father on the throne. When Rama had to leave, Sita was not compelled to go along with Him. In fact, keeping in mind His duty to protect, Rama asked Sita to remain at home. If a police officer has to respond to an incident, he doesn’t bring his wife and children along. He has a dangerous job, and it doesn’t make things easier when others are put into the same danger for no reason.

[Sita and Rama in the forest]Rama’s occupation was similar to a police officer, except He was called out of the house for fourteen years. Sita still insisted on accompanying Him. She would not let Him suffer alone. As a reward for this kind and selfless act, she received the tremendous grief of being separated from Him. It was a deceitful deed perpetrated by the king of Lanka, Ravana. He took Sita away in secret and made no attempt to bring her back to Rama’s side.

Rama’s messenger Hanuman heard the tale from Sita herself in Lanka. In this verse from the Ramayana, we see her described as being overwhelmed by sadness upon sadness. She was removed from the side of her beloved husband, whose company she enjoyed so much. Then she was threatened with death for not giving in to the advances of Ravana.

Even with the distress of the material world, there is a way to find happiness. There are the comforting words of the messenger of God. Here the messenger is Hanuman, delivering the words of Shri Rama directly to Sita. In other cases it is the spiritual master who reveals the safe, comforting and protective path of devotional service, also known as bhakti-yoga. The spiritual master delivers the lifesaving words that this material world is not our real home, that we can find eternal happiness in the shelter of the Divine.

[Sita and Rama]As a result, grief upon grief gets replaced by bliss on top of bliss. The change happens through association with Sita and Rama, who come to us in the sound vibration of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Separation is inevitable in a world that we enter. Death is automatically paired with birth. Yet attachment can also be permanent, provided it is paired with the Supreme Lord. Sita would be reunited with Rama, and today the distressed can be reunited with the eternal engagement that is devotional service.

In Closing:

Since in this world so much grief,

A new leader needed the belief.

But on that so much on top,

Too much suffering we’ve got.

Light from comforting words shone,

That this material world not our actual home.

Words of God from messenger sent,

Like when Hanuman to Sita went.

Categories: hanuman the messenger

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