“I hope that His face, having a fragrance like the lotus-flower and golden-like in color, has not dried up due to the sadness and distress of being without me, like the lotus-flower in the waterless pond affected by the sun.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.28)
kaccin na tadt hema samāna varṇam |
tasya ānanam padma samāna gandhi |
mayā vinā śuṣyati śoka dīnam |
jala kṣaye padmam iva ātapena ||
It’s one of the first questions children ask when seeing a painting of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan as passed on in the Vedic tradition. The teaching is that God is like you and me in that He is purusha. This Sanskrit word has several meanings. Purusha is a person, like a living being, animating what is otherwise prakriti, or matter.
Purusha is also the enjoyer, dominating over the enjoyed, prakriti. We are purusha at the local level. We are spirit soul at the core, atma, which is covered by material elements. In this way we are the same as Bhagavan. Since He is the supreme enjoyer, He is also known as Purushottama, or the topmost person.
More than just a distinct individual, there are identifiable features to God. He has legs. He has hands. He has ears. The difference is in ability. His ears are everywhere. We don’t have to see physical objects to get proof. Simply through an expansion residing within the heart of every living being the Supreme Lord accomplishes omnipresence. He doesn’t need to specifically wiretap or spy on political enemies in an upcoming election; part of the definition of His transcendental body is an extended range of hearing beyond comprehension.
“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)
God is distributed everywhere, and He has a personal form, as well. It looks like a human being’s, but again, the nature of the features is different. Since His personal form is the most attractive, He is known as Krishna. Since He holds all transcendental pleasure, Rama is another way to address Him.
The original, personal form expands into other similar, but identical forms. There is Krishna, and there is also Rama. There is also Vishnu. One thing in common is the dark complexion. It looks bluish. This is what seems odd to the person first introduced to such images. We have never seen a bluish complexion on a human being. Does this mean the Vedas are mythology?
The people who saw God in His many travels to this and other worlds recorded their observations. Knowing that the complexion would be an issue, they made comparisons to various objects in nature to help the person hearing the accounts. Krishna is dark-blue, like the cloud about to pour rain. His body is like the color of the indranila-mani, which is the blue sapphire.
The Sanskrit word most commonly used for God’s complexion is shyama. This sometimes translates to “greenish” or “brownish” as well. The idea is that there is a dark complexion, and for the eternal consort there is the golden complexion. The same holds true of the first expansion, the servitor God. Krishna is dark, while Balarama is fair.
In the incarnation of Rama, Krishna descends to earth as a warrior prince. Again, the complexion is shyama. The expansion of the servitor God is Lakshmana, who is gaura, or golden. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Sita Devi refers to Rama has having a varna, or color, like gold, hema. Is this contradictory?
The comparison is made in terms of brightness. She further elaborates that she hopes Rama’s beautiful face has not withered up like the lotus flower in the dry pond. Indeed, Sita informs us that Rama’s face has a fragrance like the lotus flower. In every way God is all-attractive.
Sita should know since she is the beloved wife. She understands that God is above shoka, or grief, but for His devotees He becomes upset from separation. Again, the description is contradictory, but the Supreme is actually beyond logic and reasoning. He is the greatest and the smallest. He is the most renounced and also the most attached to His devotees.
A more selfish person wouldn’t relay these thoughts. Rama was separated from Sita due to the wicked deeds of the king of Lanka, Ravana. Sita was in so much distress that it looked like she was going to wither away from not eating. It would have been understandable if she wished that Rama were suffering similarly.
But she always wishes the best for those who are dear to her. The Supreme Lord knows this, and that is why He is willing to move heaven and earth to save her. He does the same for His devotees of every size and shape, man or woman, human or animal. The determining factor is the presence of devotion and the level of its sincerity. The one with the golden-like face brightens up the hopes of those who have been suffering under the dark cloud of material existence for too long.
Suffering long with hope seeming none,
Burning under material world lacking sun.
Rama coming with lotus-like face,
With brightness the pain to erase.
When separated Sita for husband hoping,
That still golden, with situation coping.
Not selfish in any way that loving wife,
To God dedicating thoughts and entire life.