“While he was tilling a field with a plow in his hand, it is said that I, the daughter of that king, arose from underneath the earth’s surface.” (Sita Devi speaking to Anasuya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.28)
“What about this ritual and that? Shouldn’t I be respecting the devatas? These traditions have been in our family for generations. Why would you ignore them? Do you think that you get immunity just because you are practicing bhakti?”
These questions are often asked of the person dedicated to the path of Divine love, which focuses entirely on the origin of everything, the adi-purusha. Not that there is disrespect for others, but valuable time is not wasted. The promise from the Bhagavad-gita is accepted and believed in full.
“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)
At the most basic level, sin is doing something the wrong way. Action that brings an unwanted reaction. The original sin, if you will, is desiring enjoyment separate from God. That desire is the catalyst for the fall to the material world and the subsequent ride on the wheel of samsara, which is repeated birth and death.
The way off is a change in consciousness, which is effected through changing behavior. Follow a certain path so that eventually the desire that is to blame for the troubles goes away. Desire will always remain; only its nature flips. Instead of wanting personal enjoyment relating to the body, the focus is on pleasing the Supreme Lord, who has a transcendental form.
“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.28)
To that end once the desire changes the rituals and regulations intended to remove the effects of sin are no longer required. We don’t have to rely on only a theoretical understanding. There are several examples from history where pious souls received fortune unexpectedly. And that fortune had nothing to do with material life.
1. Sudama Vipra
A vipra is a wise person. The title ties to the brahmana class, which are like priests. They are the brains of society, and they have certain duties. It is an occupation; not a caste. Just as the titles of doctor and lawyer are not inherited, the same applies for the vipra.
An aspect of brahminical life is simplicity. Sometimes that goes to the extreme where there can be poverty. In adulthood Sudama was quite poor. He was fine with it, but the wife wanted some help. She knew that Sudama was friends with Krishna, the king of Dvaraka, during childhood. The two attended the same school together.
At the wife’s urging Sudama paid a visit to Krishna in the palace where the Lord lived with Rukmini Devi. Krishna is actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead and Rukmini the goddess of fortune. Received with amazing hospitality, with the utmost kindness, Sudama couldn’t muster up the courage to ask for material help.
He eventually took leave and returned home. As he approached the house, he noticed that it was completely transformed. It was now like a palace. His days as a poor man were over. This was unexpected fortune bestowed upon a very pious soul. Krishna is antaryami, the all-pervading witness. He knows desires even if they are not explicitly voiced. He also knew that the wealth would not take Sudama off the bhakti path; it would only help the situation.
2. King Dasharatha
In one of the popular rituals of the Vedic tradition both Sudama Vipra and King Dasharatha are mentioned. It is said that they observed this particular ritual faithfully, and so in their next births they became who they are now known for.
Dasharatha was King of Ayodhya. His name is very interesting. It was earned through heroic battle in defense of the suras, who are the demigods. The suras and asuras have been at odds since the beginning of time. This is factual and also symbolic, as good and evil will always clash.
The king of Ayodhya could fight against chariots coming in the ten directions simultaneously. That is how he earned the name Dasharatha. All was well in the kingdom except for one problem. No heir to the throne. For those following material life and strict standards of piety, one of the debts assumed at the time of birth is to the forefathers. The way to satisfy that debt is to beget a son.
Dasharatha was lacking in this area, so at the advice of a brahmana he performed a yajna, or sacrifice. The three queens partook of the remnants of that sacrifice and soon they became pregnant. The very pious king was blessed with the tremendous fortune of God Himself appearing as His son, Shri Rama. The same original Godhead partially expanded into three other sons, giving the king four in total.
3. King Janaka
During the same time period, in a different part of the world was another great king. His name was Janaka, and he appeared in a long line of kings with the same name. This particular Janaka would soon be identified as Shira-dhvaja.
He was well-known for his yoga. Since he was detached from the body he was also known as Videha. That didn’t stop him from fulfilling the duties of king. He easily could have retreated to the forest to show that he was above it all, but he wanted to set a good example for others.
“Even kings like Janaka and others attained the perfectional stage by performance of prescribed duties. Therefore, just for the sake of educating the people in general, you should perform your work.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.20)
In following his prescribed duties with detachment, one day Janaka was preparing a field for a yajna. As he was picking up fistfuls of dirt for leveling the ground, he noticed something unusual. It was a baby girl. She was in the ground and still alive.
He picked her up and immediately developed affection for her. He was still Videha, as this baby was not ordinary. She was the goddess of fortune herself. Soon she became the most valuable possession of the king, and he would one day give her away to Dasharatha’s eldest son Rama for marriage.
All fortune in bhakti to know,
Not necessary towards demigods to go.
Like Sudama with a palace blessed,
And Dasharatha previously of sons bereft.
Janaka the most adorable baby found,
In field prepared for sacrificial ground.
With fortune but never to stray,
On devotion’s path firmly to stay.
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