“I trust that Rama, who is accustomed to pleasures and not accustomed to lack of pleasure, is not lamenting now that He has obtained an increase in distress.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.21)
sukhānām ucito nityam asukhānām anūcitaḥ |
duhkham uttaram āsādya kaccit rāmo na sīdati ||
What is God doing? Accepting the fact that He exists, that He is more than just an abstract or a concept to be contemplated, what is it exactly that He is doing? Action leads to reaction, does it not? It is in the very nature of assessing reactions that actions get grouped into different categories. The most basic dividing line is good and bad, also known as pious and impious or right and wrong.
“Unseen and indefinite are the good and bad reactions of fruitive work. And without taking action, the desired fruits of such work cannot manifest.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.17)
You do something and there is a result later on. The “later” might be as soon as one second away or it can be as far into the distance as thirty years. There is also no guarantee that the result will stay forever. Think of the criminal sentenced to prison. There is usually a length of stay attached. Once the allotted time has been served the consequence to the first improper action is no longer seen.
From the spiritual science that is the Vedas we learn several things about God. First, He certainly exists. One way to define Him is to take everything that we know to exist. Having that as part of the analysis, then understand that the collective has an origin. We may not know what that origin is. We may not have been witness to the creation of everything, but we still know that things don’t come from nothing, especially things with amazing intelligence.
The Sanskrit phrase janmad asya yatah says that the Almighty is the source of everything. That is one way to define Him. There is also ananda mayo bhyasat. This means that the Supreme Lord is pleasure itself, ananda.
The simple answer to the first question is “enjoying.” That is what God is doing in the spiritual world. He is the only person who has nothing to do. No counterbalancing force compels Him to work. There is no concern over reaction to action since He is not under the jurisdiction of karma. In fact, karma is something He creates to facilitate the changes in bodies that allows for the variety in experiences in maya, or illusion. This virtual reality of sorts is the choice of the jiva souls who want to enjoy separate from God. They too seek ananda, but devoid of the association of the person who is full of pleasure, Rama.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, the princess of Videha subtly references this property of complete pleasure that exists in the Supreme Lord. She is describing Rama, the incarnation of God, who also happens to be her husband. She says that Rama is accustomed to sukha, which means “happiness” or “pleasure.”
She says that Rama is also not accustomed to the negation of sukha. The Sanskrit word “uchitah” can also mean deserving. Rama deserves only pleasure and happiness. This is what He is accustomed to. That is God’s nature, after all. Distress is a byproduct of lack of control. Distress is coupled with frustration, as no person intentionally seeks out pain. Even if there is self-imposed austerity that is uncomfortable, there is the higher purpose that will involve some kind of pleasure.
In addition to describing the ananda property of God, Sita also keeps attention to Rama’s duty as a leader in society. As Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, what great men do others follow. Krishna is the same ananda-brahma, the spiritual eternal who is always in bliss. Krishna and Rama are the same; just different visual manifestations of the singular Divine Being.
“Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.21)
As Rama is not accustomed to asukha, Sita hopes that He has not fallen into lamentation. A normal person would be justified. Rama has lost Sita and is desperately searching for her. There is strong affection there, to a level that can’t be measured. He does not want any harm befalling her. He wants her to be safe.
For her part, Sita wants her husband to stay above the changes in fortune. Good and bad come and go. It is like the changing of seasons. Just because winter has arrived it doesn’t mean that I should not bathe. Just because it is summer it doesn’t mean that the hot kitchen is an excuse to stop preparing food to eat.
Fortunately, there is no cause for concern. Human beings are not robots; emotions will always exist. The secret is to not let emotions get in the way of carrying out prescribed duties. Rama assigned Himself the role of protector of men, and so even a downturn in fortune wouldn’t take Him off the righteous path. If ever there were a slight vulnerability, Rama has Sita there to get Him back on track.
Indeed, the younger brother Lakshmana behaved similarly right after it was learned that Sita had gone missing. This is another confidential aspect of God’s nature. He allows the devotees to serve Him, up to the point of even offering Him instruction. No other benefactor is so kind, and so it is no wonder the saintliest characters are dedicated to Him in thought, word and deed.
Sita and Lakshmana having His back,
In case ever to veer off track.
In spiritual world in enjoyment persisting,
Full ananda in Him existing.
So to react when wife missing how,
Hope that not in lamentation now?
But Shri Rama to continue on ready,
He who once lifted bow, of hand most steady.