“Being pleased by the full surrender and submission of Lord Bharata, Lord Ramachandra then accepted the throne of the state. He cared for the citizens exactly like a father, and the citizens, being fully engaged in their occupational duties of varna and ashrama, accepted Him as their father.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.10.50)
Friend1: Do you follow the elections?
Friend2: Just as much as anyone else.
Friend1: It is entertaining, I must say.
Friend2: You find out what all the answers to the focus groups are.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: From the policy positions. Most of those are focus-grouped. These guys don’t come up with policies out of thin air. They find out what the public is unhappy about. Then they promise to fix those things.
Friend1: I see. Makes sense. What is the spiritual point of view on this?
Friend2: On elections or the promises?
Friend1: The policies. Will the problems be fixed?
Friend2: Not to keep answering every question with a question, but are you asking if the problems will go away or will the people be happy as a result?
Friend1: Oh, that is a good way of looking at things. I guess you could say these politicians are trying to make everything ideal.
Friend2: There you go. Give me your vision of an ideal society and we’ll see if it makes people happy.
Friend1: Well, it seems like economics is always the major issue. The rich are getting richer. The poor are getting poorer. People need jobs. The cost of things has to go down. The people need help.
Friend2: Now, if the price of something goes down, will people be happy? For instance, they promise a tax credit for childcare expenses.
Friend1: That is really expensive. It makes you wonder. Why are both parents working if so much of their money is going towards caring for the child while they are at work?
Friend2: Say that they get enough money to care for their children. Does that mean they will be happy?
Friend1: I think so.
Friend2: Try to hear the buzzer sound from a game-show. You just gave the wrong answer.
Friend1: How can you assert that?
Friend2: Easy. Compare the childcare issue with what other countries face. In the United States, relatively speaking, there are no poor people.
Friend1: That’s not true at all. You see the horrible conditions some people live in.
Friend2: Horrible in your eyes, but that is paradise to so many people around the world. Poverty means not having enough food to eat. That is the real definition. In America poor people are often more obese than the rest of the population. Not even poverty, just getting what you want in general doesn’t make people happy. Desires change. Material desire is known as kama, which translates to “lust” in Sanskrit. Lust is like a fire. The more you feed it, the higher it gets.
Friend1: Do you have an example of an ideal society? Is it Rama-rajya?
Friend2: There you go. The kingdom of Ayodhya during the reign of Shri Rama is one example. This makes for a very interesting case study. Just see what things are not there.
Friend1: Such as?
Friend2: Equality. There are different occupations. There are different income levels. This starts from the very top of the government. Rama is in charge. If He is in charge, others have to listen to what He says. That means there can never be equality in that kingdom.
Friend1: How are people happy, then?
Friend2: Exactly. It’s not an equality of outcomes. It’s not the same standard of material living. It’s all about service to God in a mood of love. That is why Rama-rajya is ideal. Everyone is connected to the same goal: pleasing Rama.
Friend1: Are you saying that there is no other way to get an ideal society?
Friend2: That is the very definition of ideal. There is varna and ashrama. People are engaged in the varna, or occupation, that best suits them. They follow the four ashramas of spiritual purification, gradually leading up to the point of full liberation prior to death’s arrival.
Friend1: How can there be death in the kingdom of God?
Friend2: In the spiritual world there isn’t death, but time still operates. It just doesn’t have a negative influence. Even in the material world if people take up bhakti-yoga in earnest, death no longer becomes something to fear. Death simply means shifting to a situation better for devotion. If that devotion is already at a high level, then it continues into the future.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: Think about it. People in communist countries are unhappy. In industrialized nations there is always competition. The poor think the rich are running the show. The rich want to make sure their competitors don’t overtake them. There is always unhappiness when devotion to God is absent. The example of Rama-rajya shows that any person can be happy remaining just where they are. There needn’t be a dramatic shift in occupation. Just change your consciousness. Bhakti-yoga is God consciousness. Think of the all-attractive one, who gives delight to the devotees in a variety of moods. As Shri Rama He plays the ideal king to lead the devoted citizens, who come from all walks of life.
From all walks of life coming,
Not everyone the same becoming.
In Rama-rajya, kingdom ideal,
Bliss of devotion citizens to feel.
Looking not for this solution or that,
Love of Rama keeping everything intact.
Means same happiness can be found today,
Practicing bhakti in current position to stay.