“O monkey, please describe again to me the signs that exist on Rama and Lakshmana so that grief does not overtake me again.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.3)
yāni rāmasya lingāni lakṣmaṇasya ca vānara |
tāni bhūyaḥ samācakṣva na mām śokaḥ samāviśet ||
Meditation is a great way to bring the mind back under control. After all, the mind is unsteady and restless, always moving hither and thither. The process of falling of asleep provides evidence. The way the human being goes from full consciousness to a sleeping state is when the mind starts jumping from one thing to another at a rapid pace. Sleep is the state where the individual takes shelter completely of the subtle body: mind, intelligence and false ego.
cañcalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa
pramāthi balavad dṛḍham
tasyāhaṁ nigrahaṁ manye
vāyor iva su-duṣkaram
The famous bow warrior Arjuna says that trying to get the mind under control is something like trying to control the wind. It’s a difficult task, for sure. There is a benefit to trying. If a student is having trouble during an exam, they need to shift gears and stay focused. The driver on the road has to keep their eye on what is around them. The head of state needs to keep the mind fixed on the issues of the people.
The very fact that meditation needs to be practiced shows how restless the mind typically is. Since meditation is beneficial in so many ways, how should it be practiced? What are the ideal conditions? On what should the mind focus during the period of control? Also, what is the best objective for which meditation should be employed?
The above referenced verse from the Ramayana provides some answers. Here Sita Devi is asking Shri Hanuman to again speak about Rama and Lakshmana. Sita is Rama’s wife and Lakshmana Rama’s younger brother. Sita is separated from both of them at the time, due to no fault of her own. Hanuman is a stranger to her, but he says that he has met the brothers previously.
Hanuman has already described them, and he must have done a good job since Sita wants him to continue further. This time she asks specifically about the features on the forms of the brothers. The Sanskrit word is lingani. Meditation is a mental exercise, but there is no restriction as to how the senses will be used in creating the meditative state. Sound can play a vital role, and here we see Sita asking for a specific type of sound.
She wants to hear about Rama and Lakshmana. She already knows them well, but to hear Hanuman speak about their characteristics will really help in the meditation. Rama is the Supreme Lord in an incarnation form. Lakshmana is the servitor-god, the origin of the guru. Thus their forms are divine. Even when seen in a house of worship, though the forms depicting their true images may be made of stone, marble or wood, the elements take on a spiritual nature.
With the deity, the ideal method of meditation is to start at the feet. The feet are beautiful enough, compared to lotus flowers. The eyes of the worshiper are used to create a deep trance of contemplation. The feet on the deity must be spiritual, otherwise the meditation on them would be ineffective.
In the case of Rama and Lakshmana, just hearing about their features serves as meditation. And what is the benefit of that hearing? It removes grief and anguish, shoka. Sita is in great distress since the vile Ravana has held her in Lanka against her will. She wants to be with her husband again, and she is not sure when or if that will ever happen. Yet the meditation created through hearing about Rama helps to remove that grief.
Every living entity in the material existence is struggling, separated in consciousness from God, with whom they have had a bond lasting the duration of time itself. Though there may be a perceived lack of personal association, just hearing about God and His features helps to remove distress. This is a century’s old method that has provided positive results every time applied.
There are some requisite conditions, though. The speaker must be like Hanuman, fully devoted to Rama and Lakshmana. The listener must be sincere as well, like Sita Devi. Sita herself is expert at giving Rama-katha, or discourses about the Supreme Lord, the son of King Dasharatha, the moon of the Raghu dynasty. She spoke of the characteristics of her husband to Ravana several times, but the fiend did not benefit as a result. He got the boon of liberation only at the end, when seeing Rama face to face prior to quitting his body.
It is therefore recommended that in the modern age people simply hear the names of God first. The sound of the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” can soften the heart to create the necessary sincerity and desire for hearing more about God’s features. The people who follow in the example of devotion of Hanuman deliver these words, removing the distress of the people of the world.
Listener must be sincere,
For benefit of God to hear.
Ideal state creating,
Effective most meditating.
From Hanuman coming just a sound,
Yet to Sita still joy abound.
Since Rama and Lakshmana’s form to find,
Giving relief to that distressed mind.
Categories: hanuman the messenger