“I trust that news is constantly being heard about the well-being of Kausalya, Sumitra, and Bharata.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.22)
kausalyāyāḥ tathā kaccit sumitrāyāḥ tathaiva ca |
abhīkṣṇam śrūyate kaccit kuśalam bharatasya ca ||
You can tell a lot about a person from how they behave in a difficult situation. Do they panic? Do they suddenly throw aside morality and virtue? Do they care only for themselves? In fact, of whose welfare do they ask?
The situation for Sita Devi would objectively be considered horrible and dire. She was in Lanka, taken there against her will. Surrounding her were terrifying looking female creatures, ordered by the king to harass her day and night. Sita wouldn’t submit to the advances of the ten-headed Ravana, the leader of the land, so it was decided that she should suffer the consequences.
A beam of light shone on the arrival of Shri Hanuman. He was sent by Shri Rama, the husband of Sita. After finally gaining her trust, Hanuman heard a series of questions from her. Those questions displayed Sita’s virtue, her kindness, and her attention to dharma. More than simply focusing on herself and the impending rescue, she wanted to know if her husband was staying on the virtuous path and if He was doing everything that should be done.
Sita and Rama are actually the singular Divine appearing in two different forms: the female and the male. This automatically means that everyone is dear to them. God has no enemies. By definition He cannot. He is within every heart as the Supersoul.
“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)
He is the best well-wishing friend due to His constant companionship. Where friendships and enmity develop is in the area of consciousness. Those who are conscious of God then render some service to Him. This classifies them as friend. The enemies are those who go against the friends of God. The mercy is available to everyone; the distinctions come from how and if that mercy is used.
From Sita’s questions to Hanuman we can decipher who is dear to the couple. Hanuman is beloved since he risked everything in order to serve Rama by reaching Sita and giving her news. At least three other people are dear to the couple based on a question Sita asked of Hanuman.
God is the birth-less one. He is the origin of the species. He is without beginning, anadi. He is also without end, ananta. Without His potency, none of the spiritual beings would enter this world.
“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.4)
When God descends in a seemingly human form, He designates exalted souls to play the roles of mother and father. In the Rama incarnation Queen Kausalya was the birth mother. She was a loving caretaker through and through. Though she didn’t want Rama to leave the kingdom for fourteen years, she did not stand in the way when her son insisted on upholding the word of His father, the king.
Sita is the eternal consort, the pleasure potency expansion of God. There is another expansion that acts as the best servant. The incarnation of that expansion was Lakshmana. He was born to Queen Sumitra in the same kingdom. Thus Rama and Lakshmana were half-brothers.
Sumitra suffered from separation from her son as well. Lakshmana insisted on accompanying Rama to the forest. Prior to his departure, Sumitra instructed him to view Sita and Rama as the mother and father.
The Supreme Lord had three expansions who appeared as brothers in the kingdom. Shatrughna was also born to Sumitra. The fourth brother was Bharata, who took birth from Queen Kaikeyi. It is not surprising that Sita did not ask about Kaikeyi. At the moment of meeting Hanuman, she was not concerned if news about Kaikeyi was coming to Rama on a regular basis.
The reason is obvious. In one way Kaikeyi could be blamed for the entire predicament. Under the sway of jealousy, but really influenced by the Divine energy known as yogamaya, Kaikeyi took advantage of the kind-heartedness of her husband. She tricked him into making a promise to exile Rama from the kingdom and make the younger Bharata the next king.
Bharata was out of town when this happened. When he returned home and learned what happened, he was mortified. He sought Rama out in the forest and tried his best to get the Lord to change His mind. He even offered to take Lakshmana’s place.
Being dear to the Supreme Lord is one of the boons of following the real religion, dharma. The close relationship is established without much effort. Any person who makes even the slightest offering of service to God gets rewarded at a level much greater than what was expended. For this reason the saints who follow the example of Lakshmana today constantly stress the need to always chant the holy names with love, attachment and attention: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Sita-Rama, eternal consort and God to call,
Thus automatically merciful to all.
Still, rendering service becoming dear,
From question to Hanuman of three clear.
Kausalya, Rama’s loving mother,
Sumitra, same to Lakshmana the brother.
Bharata, in kingdom ruling alone,
Hurt through no fault of his own.