“I trust that He is getting friends and also been approached for friendship. I trust that He has auspicious friends and that His friends are giving Him first priority.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.18)
kaccin mitrāṇi labhate mitraiḥ ca api abhigamyate |
kaccit kalyāṇa mitraḥ ca mitraiḥ ca api puraḥ kṛtaḥ ||
In politics there is always something to criticize. This is necessary for the opposition to be successful. In the natural ebb and flow, the parties alternate power. One election a certain party sweeps into the executive office and majority in the legislature. A few years later, maybe as soon as the next election, the exact opposite occurs.
It is the role of the opposition to complain about the other party. Otherwise why even seek office; just let the other guys stay in power. Diplomacy is an area ripe for criticism. If a leader acts unilaterally, the critics may complain that such behavior is not wise. Better to minimize risk by entering affairs with allies. After all, the world is a dangerous place. It is beneficial to have people on your side than against you. This only makes sense, even outside the common practice of criticism of politicians.
A long time ago a wise princess understood this truth as well. Her husband was the prince of Ayodhya. Not yet king, but one day He was to be. She was not expected to know anything about politics, administration, or protecting the people. Her dharma, or occupational duty, was to serve her husband, to keep Him happy.
Since she understood the nature of her husband, she knew exactly what kind of behavior would be pleasing to Him. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, she is wondering aloud to her husband’s representative, Shri Hanuman. Sita Devi is separated from Rama, but her primary concern is not her own welfare and safety. Surely she desires rescue from the clutches of the evil king of Lanka, Ravana, but more important to her is that her husband follow protocol.
She hopes that Rama is making friends. Friendship for a prince means alliances. Is Rama consolidating strength by aligning with powerful people? She trusts that others are also approaching Him to make an alliance.
This is very interesting considering Rama’s unique predicament. He is actually outside of His kingdom of Ayodhya. Rama is not allowed to return home to use the royal army. It was a series of unfortunate events within the family, infighting and jealousy, that caused Rama and His wife Sita to be roaming the forest like homeless people. Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana was also with them.
Sita trusts that the allies Rama is making are kalyana, or auspicious. Why have poor and ineffective friends in a military conflict? What good will that do you? She also trusts that Rama’s friends are giving Him top priority. The smart ruler makes alliances but also gets a benefit out of them. The national interest must be met; otherwise the sacrifice is not worth it.
Sita’s statements become all the more interesting when the Divine nature of her husband is taken into account. The Supreme Lord is a person of effortless actions; a fact attested to by Hanuman himself.
“If I narrate about Rama, her dear husband whose actions are effortless, she will not be frightened, as her mind will be absorbed in thoughts of her husband.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.41)
Rama is actually God Himself, appearing on earth in an incarnation form. In His form of Vishnu He creates the many universes just by exhaling. He does so while lying down in rest. The scene, which exists in truth, is also symbolic of the ease with which God performs actions that to the common man seem next to impossible.
Since He can do everything by Himself, Rama does not need allies. Still, He makes friends, is approached by others for friendship, keeps auspicious friends, and gets top priority from His friends for the benefit of others. It is in the nature of the soul to serve. That is the true meaning to dharma. There are other dharmas tied to temporary situations, like the type of body assumed for a particular lifetime and different stages within that single lifetime.
Rama understands the dharma of the individual, who is spirit soul, so He gives many opportunities for service. In special cases there is direct friendship, while others get to make friends with His representatives, like Hanuman and the spiritual master. If the same conditions are met, wherein the auspicious friends give God top priority, then there is victory in the struggle for happiness. Otherwise the living entities remain in the dark, spinning on the wheel of suffering that is reincarnation.
God many friends He’s got,
Giving to Him priority top.
Then those auspicious to be,
On path towards right end to see.
Like Rama with Sugriva aligning,
Hanuman his service defining.
Even without royal army so,
For Sita towards Lanka to go.