“I trust that Raghava has not lost affection for me due to being away from home. O Vanara, I trust that He will release me from these difficulties.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.20)
kaccin na vigata sneho vivāsān mayi rāghavaḥ |
kaccin mām vyasanāt asmān mokṣayiṣyati vānaraḥ ||
Your friend has suffered a terrible breakup. You knew the potential for this when the relationship started. You warned them that the end was sure to be the same as the last time. They didn’t listen, however. They said they had to get out there, that there were plenty of fish in the sea.
Your friend is having a difficult time dealing with the loss. They are beginning to evaluate their position in life. Reaching a certain age and still not married equals “not good.” Others are volunteering advice. The one your friend is hearing most often goes something like this:
“Just move on. I know it’s difficult to forget, but there is the old adage, ‘Out of sight, out of mind.’ Move on to someone else. Pretty soon this experience will become a distant memory. Actually, focus on that word: distance. You’ll be okay soon enough.”
Likely unbeknownst to either party, embedded in this advice is a description of an aspect of kama. The Sanskrit word has several different English translations. Lust, desire, sex life. The definitions are actually linked since they are all based on one thing: forgetfulness of God.
Kama is material desire, and due to the nature of the material world desire is never fully met. Once satisfied, kama only gets stronger in intensity, like a raging fire. That is why every kind of self-help advice involves some sort of restraint on kama. The successful people are able to control their desires, choosing a higher goal over smaller, animal-like propensities.
“A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires – that enter like rivers into the ocean which is ever being filled but is always still – can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.70)
Still, even that goal is a kind of kama, as once achieved lasting satisfaction is absent. The highest goal, which is of a different nature, is union with the Divine. The connection that results is known as yoga, and when the link is to God the person, in His fullest feature, then the ensuing relationship is known as bhakti.
The above referenced verse from the Ramayana touches on both kama and bhakti. A person driven by material desires quickly forgets when placed in a different setting. The person moving to a new experience here is Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. For some time now He has been separated from His wife, Sita. Neither of them wanted this; such are the ways of the world.
Sita is addressing Hanuman, who is in the body of a Vanara, which is a forest-dweller. In the ancient time period in which these events took place, the Vanaras were monkey-like. Sita wonders if Rama has lost affection, sneha, since being abroad.
That is the nature of kama, after all. The antagonist to this real life play is Ravana. Driven by his senses, he became consumed by lust for Sita, even though he knew she was married and devoted to Rama. Once the desire sprung up, Ravana immediately forgot about the many beautiful queens married to him in Lanka. Indeed, one avenue he chose when attempting to win over Sita was to offer her the position of chief queen. She, of course, was not interested.
Rama is unique among all living entities. He is the chief eternal of all eternals, nityo nityanam. He is the one maintaining all of the living beings. Another reason He is unique is because His affection never wanes. Evidence of this is there in the presence of the Supersoul. Everywhere is the Supreme Lord, and so He witnesses everything. Despite seeing the forgetfulness of the countless living entities occurring since time immemorial, the door to the spiritual world is always open.
“Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes and faces, and He hears everything. In this way the Supersoul exists.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.14)
The relationship between Sita and Rama is actually bhakti. Therefore forgetfulness does not occur on Rama’s side. Neither on Sita’s, since she is the eternal consort of the Supreme Lord; she is always by the side of God, in every incarnation and descent.
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)
Another promise is that God the person will protect the devotees. He will deliver them from any sinful reaction that may occur. Here Sita was not suffering a sinful reaction but more a horrible experience; getting caught in the middle of someone else’s sins. She wonders whether Rama will rescue her from it.
The answer was in the affirmative, as the future would attest. Since Rama never loses affection, He is the best person to whom to offer that affection in the first place. The same eternal kindness exists in His wife, the goddess of fortune, and His representatives, like Hanuman. The group thus forms a kind of spiritual family that provides constant support to any person wishing to connect with them.
Not alone have to go defending,
Support the spiritual family sending.
With Supreme Lord Rama starting,
Never from kindness departing.
Goddess of fortune blessing devotees so,
For that couple anywhere Hanuman to go.
Even when out of sight not out of mind,
Best group to worship you will find.