Not Frozen In Time

[Lord Rama]“Employing the form of a deer, he distracted Rama and then took you away from that empty hermitage. You will see the fruit of that action.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 34.32)

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apakṛśṣya āśrama padān mṛga rūpeṇa rāghavam |
śūnye yena apanītā asi tasya drakṣyasi yat phalam ||

What is time? Man has been baffled by it since before recorded history began. A person taking a long flight worries about what they will do. The concern is over how time will be occupied. They don’t consider how they have passed so much time already, in their many years of living in this world. The parents worry over how time will act on their children, what the future holds in store. The diseased person is concerned that their time in the present body might soon be ending.

From studying the spiritual science that is the Vedas, we learn that time is merely the manifestation of the material elements at a specific moment. Right now I look a certain way. I have a specific height, complexion, and amount of hair. In the past those things could have been entirely different. In the future, they might change as well. Throughout the different points in time, I remain the same individual. My identity does not change. This means that the only difference is the manifestation, the collection of the material elements that go on top of whatever it is that represents my identity.

dehino ‘smin yathā dehe

kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā

tathā dehāntara-prāptir

dhīras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

[changing bodies]One of the ways that time baffles is by making us believe that something will never change. This is especially distressing when we want the situation to shift, such as when good things happen to bad people. Shouldn’t a person be punished for lying? Shouldn’t the severity of the reaction be commensurate with the seriousness of the crime? Why is it that people get away with things, then? Lying politicians become rich after leaving office. Criminals can get an innocent verdict if they hire the right lawyer. Life is so unfair sometimes.

It looked that way in Lanka a long time ago. The city was literally made of gold. The people enjoyed endless animal flesh and wine. The king had multiple wives, who were all beautiful. It was the sinner’s paradise. It looked like nothing could go wrong. The king had even taken another man’s wife in secret. He had one of his henchmen use the illusory form of a deer to lure away the woman’s husband. That left the place they were staying, an ashrama, empty, or shunya.

What was the immediate result to that action? The king Ravana continued in his sinful life in Lanka. The woman, Sita Devi, remained in distress for months. She refused to give in to Ravana’s advances, and so the fiend only tried harder. He resorted to threats; he had his female attendants harass Sita day and night.

The princess of Videha was blameless. She followed the example set by her father, King Janaka. He was renowned for his dedication to work with detachment. He was a yogi in consciousness, but that didn’t mean he gave up his occupational duties. The Bhagavad-gita makes mention of him as an ideal example of how to work with detachment.

karmaṇaiva hi saṁsiddhim

āsthitā janakādayaḥ

loka-saṅgraham evāpi

sampaśyan kartum arhasi

“Even kings like Janaka and others attained the perfectional stage by performance of prescribed duties. Therefore, just for the sake of educating the people in general, you should perform your work.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.20)

[Sita holding flower]Sita was living in that ashrama only because she followed her duty to her husband. She lived in dharma, while Ravana lived in kama. Dharma should reward the individual, while kama always punishes eventually. The present circumstances gave a different impression, however.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman reminds any doubtful person that time does change things. We should not be fooled into believing that the present manifestation of the material elements will stay fixed. After all, the creation had to manifest at some point. Lord Brahma creates. Then someone needs to maintain. There is Lord Vishnu for that. Eventually there is destruction, which Lord Shiva easily handles. The cycle repeats, as that is the nature of the material world.

If the entire universe came into being and eventually gets destroyed, so too will every local collection of material elements. Time is what effects the change. The nature of that change is influenced directly by activities, known as karma. The phala, or fruits, to Ravana’s karma would manifest soon enough.

Rama would arrive on the scene and give the fiendish king his due reward. Wise souls like Hanuman know how this works. They don’t make the mistake of thinking that temporary circumstances tell the entire story. Just as the flowers bloom at the appropriate time, so the doer of sinful deeds gets their just punishment when they are set to receive it. Rama Himself one time said this to one of Ravana’s men.

“Just as a tree starts to blossom during the proper season, so the doer of sinful deeds inevitably reaps the horrible fruit of their actions at the appropriate time.” (Lord Rama speaking to Khara, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 29.8)

[Rama holding bow]More important than understanding time and its influence is knowing that it is managed directly by the Supreme Lord. Rama is the same Krishna who says in the Bhagavad-gita that He is time itself. The person who is time can control how it operates. For Hanuman He manipulates time so that eventually the trust of the doubtful Sita is won. He effects time for Vibhishana so that the pious soul ends up on the right side in a great conflict. He preserves the sacred time period of the events in question in a famous book known as the Ramayana. In every way Rama makes time favorable for His devotees, who no longer have to worry about karma and its effects.

In Closing:

Right now specific manifestation to see,

But know that not always like this to be.

Everything to end, including body of mine,

Changes effected by undefeated time.

Ravana living in sinner’s enjoyment swoon,

But punishment for sinful deed coming soon.

Husband of Sita, Shri Rama through,

Wise soul Hanuman this always knew.



Categories: hanuman the messenger

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