“I trust that Rama is not distressed and not feeling pain. Is that best of men preparing to do what must be done?” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.15)
kaccic ca vyathate rāmaḥ kaccin na paripatyate |
uttarāṇi ca kāryāṇi kurute puruṣa uttamaḥ ||
In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna lays out a series of qualities that are the equivalent of knowledge. One of the qualities mentioned is detachment from home, wife and children. The person new to Vedic teachings might be taken aback. Is not the home everything? The wife and children are the quintessential loved ones. Shouldn’t attachment to them be a high priority?
“As for detachment from children, wife and home, it is not meant that one should have no feeling for these. They are natural objects of affection, but when they are not favorable to spiritual progress, then one should not be attached to them. The best process for making the home pleasant is Krishna consciousness.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 13.8-12 Purport)
Every truth, every principle, every recommendation, every restriction is tied to the main objective in the most precious human birth: liberation. No more cycle of birth and death. Dharma, artha and kama are nice, but unless there is moksha, or release from having to chase after the same in the next lifetime, there hasn’t been much benefit accrued. The enhanced intelligence hasn’t been put to the best use.
In this regard the spouse can be a great hindrance. If an attachment is formed to an extent that the spiritual wellbeing of the individual is neglected, then there is really no advancement from the animal species. Indeed, the more attachments that exist, the more one is guaranteed to again take birth.
On the other hand, a supportive spouse can be a tremendous blessing. The above referenced verse from the Ramayana shows us how. Here Sita Devi is in a pitiable situation. She is separated from her beloved husband, Shri Rama. She loves Rama so much; she is willing to do anything to see Him happy.
At the same time, she understands Rama’s ultimate objective. Sita is an incarnation of the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi, and her husband an incarnation of Narayana, who is equivalent to the concept of God as a person. The Rama incarnation has the specific purpose of upholding dharma, or righteousness. To that end Rama shows more attention to the rules and regulations, particularly of the administrator/warrior order, than other descents of the Divine.
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion – at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)
Sita is separated from Rama, not at her choosing. The wicked king of Lanka, Ravana, took her away by force, in secret. Sita has just learned that Rama is thinking of her. The messenger Hanuman has informed her.
What are her immediate thoughts? Is she concerned for her welfare only? Her primary focus is that Rama not be distressed. She doesn’t want Him to be feeling pain, for she understands the boundless compassion that the Supreme Lord feels for the devotees. She does not want Rama to be taken off the righteous path.
She trusts that He is making every preparation in the direction of what needs to be done. The good wife always keeps an eye on this. If her husband achieves liberation in this lifetime, she shares in the merits accrued. From this we see the true potential of that holy alliance.
Sita describes Rama as Purushottama, which means “the best of men.” Purushottama should be above grief and distress. These are natural emotions, but they should not take a person off the righteous path. That is the real definition of maya, or illusion, having a hold. The great bow-warrior Arjuna had doubts going into a very important conflict, but he did not let those doubts diverge him from doing what needed to be done.
Rama indeed remained on the righteous path, taking strength from the energy that is His wife. We living entities are the energy, shakti, and God is the energetic, shaktiman. In every marital relationship the wife that helps to keep her partner on the righteous path is a great blessing from God. The real meaning of moksha is love and devotion for God. Included in the definition of God are His associates, like Sita and Hanuman. Devotion to them makes life perfect, and anyone who helps to give and maintain that devotion is a tremendous blessing.
For pain of rebirth no more to see,
Attached to wife and home not to be.
Then marriage itself existing why,
Better not go it alone to try?
A blessing like Sita for Rama there,
On His progress attention and care.
That on the righteous path to tread,
From love to liberation husband led.