“I shall go with you today to the forest. There is no doubt about it. I cannot be prevented, O greatly fortunate one. I am ready to go.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 27.15)
In Sanskrit the prefix of “a” is used for negating a word. This usage is prominent in words describing that person who is beyond description. The Almighty, God, the Deity, the Divinity – these help to distinguish a person from the population of mortals, but there are further ways to describe, which glorify at the same time.
One name for Him is Ajita. This means “never conquered.” It makes sense, since a person being conquered reveals a flaw, a blemish, a vulnerability. Even if an athlete, warrior, politician, ruler, or other person in a position of prominence has a one hundred percent success record in competition, they cannot defeat death. Known as kala in Sanskrit, death is the greatest devouring agent, and it has spared no one to date.
Despite being worthy of the name Ajita, the Supreme Lord sometimes does find defeat. This contradiction is resolved through understanding the potency of bhakti, which is love and devotion. Not tainted with any desires for fruitive gain, increase in knowledge, or mystic ability, the devotee is able to win over that person who is otherwise undefeated.
1. Wrestling with the cowherd boys
Ajita descends to earth every and now then, which for Him can mean thousands of years in a gap. After all, Lord Brahma’s day is billions of years long, and that doesn’t even come close to meeting his entire lifespan. Bhagavan says that a person who knows the length of Brahma’s day and night actually understands time.
“By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma’s one day. And such also is the duration of his night.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.17)
One place that Ajita visits in the mortal world is Vrindavana. There He plays the role of a cowherd boy, the beloved son of Nanda Maharaja and mother Yashoda. There are other cowherd boys in the community, also, and they go out to the fields together, under the excuse of tending to the calves.
“The party of Balarama, accompanied by Shridama and Vrishabha, came out victorious, and Krishna’s party had to carry them on their backs through the Bhandiravana forest. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, being defeated, had to carry Shridama on His back, and Bhadrasena carried Vrishabha.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 18)
Ajita wrestles with His friends, and sometimes He is defeated. As per prior stipulation, He must then carry the victors on His shoulders for a period of time. He is conquered in this way because there is great delight as a result. There is ananda, or bliss, all around.
2. Tied by mother Yashoda
Krishna is known to break into the homes of the neighbors and steal their butter. Outwardly, they protest the intrusions, but inwardly they are delighted. Mother Yashoda hears the complaints, and she wonders why her son is not satisfied with the butter churned at home.
One time Krishna became angry at His mother leaving His side for a moment, and so He broke a pot of yogurt that was being churned into butter. Yashoda chased the scared Krishna until she finally caught Him. She decided to bind Him to a mortar as punishment, but no matter how many ropes she brought she was always two finger-widths short.
Once again Ajita allowed a devotee to conquer Him, seeing her dedicated effort and knowing how much she loved Him. Finally being bound to the mortar, Krishna earned the new name of Damodara, who is still celebrated to this day during the auspicious month of Kartika. Krishna was also able to use that mortar to liberate two trees, who were actually demigods in a previous birth.
3. Losing an argument to Sita
When Ajita descended to earth as the warrior prince named Rama, He one time had to leave the kingdom for fourteen years. That was a kind of defeat in itself, since God can do anything. He doesn’t have to listen to anyone, so when the step-mother Kaikeyi wanted Rama to leave, He didn’t have to accept.
The original intention was for Rama to play the ideal man, son, husband, prince, and protector of the saints. Going to the forest would facilitate other responsibilities being met. Rama asked His devoted wife Sita to remain at home. What was she going to do living in the forest like a person without a home, taking the vow to be like an ascetic?
Sita pled her case, and it was a good one. Rama still protested. Sita persisted until she finally won the argument. Husbands are known to cave into their wives, and it is no different with the Supreme Lord. He is won over by bhakti, and so the wise know that the best practice is to always stay connected with Him, winning His heart through lovingly chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Despite in many past lives sinning,
Through pure devotion winning.
To the point defeated may become,
Like when Sita argument won.
Or cowherd boys on shoulders hoisting,
Or ropes mother on Damodara foisting.
That Ajita, so merciful and kind is He,
May His beautiful vision I always see.
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