Considering Time and Place

[Lord Rama]“He is devoted to the truth and righteousness. He is glorious and seeks the kind treatment and favor of the people. He is cognizant of time and place, and speaks dearly to the entire world.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.21)

satya dharma paraḥ śrīmān samgraha anugrahe rataḥ |
deśa kāla vibhāgajñaḥ sarva loka priyam vadaḥ ||

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Shri Hanuman here mentions two words that appear frequently in discussions on Vedic philosophy. The words in this verse are in relation to Shri Rama, the husband of Sita Devi. The Supreme Lord and His followers are always respectful of these two terms, adjusting their direction so that the work is always accomplished. There is no wasted effort when the consciousness is tied to the Divine.

The two words are desha and kala. These are place and time. The relevance of these terms is not exclusive to the high philosophy of the Vedas. A simple example is driving. Depending on the place, the rules are different. In an urban area in America, it is against the law to make a right turn on red. In a suburban area, such a turn is allowed. Thus there is a difference in righteousness based on the place. In other countries, the drivers are told to stay on a different side of the road entirely.

[driving on opposite side of road]Staying with the driving example, when there is a red light, the drivers are supposed to stop. When there is a green light, they can go. Thus there is a difference in righteousness based on time. When the light is red, it is not the proper time to proceed. Doing so at that time would lead to bad results. The idea is that if you go against time and circumstance, you could meet disaster.

Hanuman’s mentioning of time and place in relation to Rama is important because of the person to whom he is speaking. There is time and place considerations within this very verse from the Ramayana. Hanuman is speaking to Sita Devi. They are in Lanka, an island ruled at the time by man-eating ogres known as Rakshasas. Lanka is a place far away from any mainland. Sita is separated from Rama. She is wondering when and if He will come to rescue her, as the king of Lanka had taken her away from Rama’s side in secret. Ravana stole her away and it seemed like he was getting away with it.

Rama was going to arrive soon, but when the time and circumstance were appropriate. It should be noted that for the Supreme Lord, both kala and desha are always in His favor. Still, when He appears on earth as a warrior prince, He sets the proper example for behavior. Rama does not act on a whim. Through His deliberate and intelligent actions, He shows others the right path to follow.

Time and place dictated that Hanuman first go and find Sita. After he would return, then the entire army of Vanaras who were working with Rama would march to Lanka to rescue Sita. Previous to this, Rama gave respect to time and place by voluntarily leaving the kingdom of Ayodhya. Though everyone wanted Him to stay, Rama knew that the right action was to leave as commanded by His father, King Dasharatha.

“O best of men, what is the use of Your destroying the entire world? After finding out Your sinful enemy, you should uproot him alone.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.21)

[Rama and Lakshmana looking for Sita]When Sita first went missing in the Dandaka forest, Rama contemplated destroying the entire world as retaliation. Lakshmana, speaking wisdom that was previously given to him by Rama, counseled his elder brother that such retaliation wasn’t proper. The time and place weren’t right.

All Vedic rituals respect these two important factors. Though Rama gives so much respect to it, He is capable of transcending it. The same goes for the process of connecting with Him. There is dharma that comes from shastra, or scripture. This is the step-by-step way to purify consciousness, gradually ascending the three modes of nature to reach a point of enlightenment.

[Lord Rama]Then there is bhakti-yoga, which is the direct process. Prescribed duties in dharma may be affected by time and place, but bhakti-yoga is universal. It can be practiced anywhere and at any time. In this day and age, it is difficult to find a time and a place where the prescribed duties in dharma can be executed properly. The highly potent practices in bhakti-yoga can be put into place anywhere, however. The most effective activity is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Like the Supreme Lord Himself, these holy names have the ability to transcend any restrictions imposed by the material world.

In Closing:

Rituals by time and place closed,

Restrictions of material world imposed.

If success in venture to expect,

Then these two things must respect.

With Shri Rama not the case,

By His will boundaries erased.

For devotion to Him same applying,

Bhakti at any time worth trying.



Categories: hanuman the messenger

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