“Certainly all these words were spoken by you due to your kind-heartedness and affection for Me. I am very pleased with you, O Sita, for indeed one does not offer instructions and advice to another without caring for them.” (Lord Rama speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 10.20)
He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One way to define Him is to know that He is the original teacher. He is the adi-guru, which means that no one comes before Him. This only makes sense, as He is the original person, as well. There is no one before Him, anadi. He is also the oldest person, purana purusham.
Yet from His pastimes on earth we see that there are times He receives instruction. Especially in the incarnation of Shri Rama, we get hints as to why and how that can occur. There is a reason someone close feels no fear in interfering in such a way.
Rama was called on to be a bodyguard. He was not yet a teenager. A bad character who later attacked noticed that Rama didn’t have signs of manhood on His face. That did not stop Vishvamitra from asking specifically for Rama to provide protection in the forest from the night-rangers, the man-eating ogres coming from Lanka.
“At the time, there were not yet visible any signs of manhood on the boy’s beautiful face, which was dark-blue in complexion and had an all-auspicious gaze. Rama had a gold chain round His neck, a small tuft of hair on His head, wore only one piece of clothing, and held a bow in His hands.” (Maricha speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 38.14)
The father Dasharatha reluctantly acquiesced to the sage’s request. Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana accompanied the group. The brothers were both of the warrior race, so in one sense it was in their blood to be fearless in protecting the innocent.
On one occasion Vishvamitra offered Rama advice. The elder was the acknowledged guru, after all. There was this female demon named Tataka who was harassing people in the forest. Vishvamitra asked Rama to take her out. The Supreme Lord was a little hesitant at first, taking gender into account. He thought it might be wiser to simply injure Tataka and have her flee.
Vishvamitra strongly reiterated his initial request. He was not afraid to provide instruction. Rama did not get angry or offended. He followed through and a great menace was removed.
2. Sita Devi
Years later Rama was back in the forest. This time as an adult, not surprisingly Lakshmana was with Him again. Rama’s wife Sita joined the group, as well. The task was also the same: provide protection to the sages, who lived in the Dandaka forest. They were being attacked by the same wicked night-rangers.
Though mild-mannered and following the standard etiquette of a wife in Vedic culture, Sita sometimes took the impetus to speak up. Especially if she saw some potential danger for her husband, she was not afraid to give unsolicited advice.
On this occasion she voiced her concerns that Rama might be inviting sinful violence by carrying so many weapons with Him. This was a peaceful area, after all. If someone were accidentally killed, the negative consequence would attach itself to her husband. Sita did not mind going to hell herself, but she never wanted to see Rama suffer in the least.
Sometime later Sita went missing. This was the handiwork of the leader of the night-rangers, Ravana. Rama was very upset at first. He was ready to destroy the entire world as revenge. He knew that Sita was the most innocent person, that she never even thought of causing injury to anyone.
At that point Lakshmana stepped in. He offered sound words of advice to calm his brother down. In fact, the teachings were originally spoken by Rama. As a great disciple, Lakshmana listened attentively. He understood the principles and invoked them when appropriate.
In every case the Supreme Lord appreciated the sentiments. He specifically told Sita that a person only offers such advice if they care deeply. It is something like where a husband and wife only argue when there is a strong, underlying affection to start.
Bhagavan is so kind that He allows others to instruct Him. In the case of Shri Krishna, the gopis chastise Him like anything. It is said that such harsh words are appreciated by Him more than the praises sung in the Vedas. The mysteries of such dealings are revealed to those who engage in bhakti-yoga, devotional service.
Rather than asking to say,
With advice showing the way.
Like Vishvamitra with Tataka dealing,
Sita to dharma’s codes appealing.
Lakshmana for anger removing,
Rama never His appreciation losing.
Since Supreme Lord, caretaker of all,
Sometimes even as disciple to call.
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