“Indeed, Ravana is not agreeable to the idea of returning me. Ravana has come under the influence of time, who is seeking his death in battle.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 37.10)
The claim is that a picture says a thousand words. A single image. No motion. No change. No enhancements in the background. A still photo, a snapshot in time, can speak so much.
The obvious is what is going on in the image. If there are characters, each person is involved in some sort of activity. Even inactivity, such as sleep, accomplishes something. There is also the backstory. How did the people get to this point in time? Where were they before? Perhaps further time spent with the image will provide more details.
What may get overlooked is the future. The image has something to say about that, though the details aren’t as clear. In the still image a person can be holding a hammer, suspended in air, targeted at a nail in the ground. The good guess is that a short time later the hammer will fall and strike the nail.
Yet that outcome is not guaranteed. As so many actions take place, it is difficult to decipher exactly what the situation will look like in the future. In the case of the king of Lanka many thousands of years ago, the still image showed victory, sensual enjoyment and security. The future would paint an entirely different picture for Ravana.
1. Deeds do matter
Actions have consequences. Miss the mark just slightly with that hammer and you could strike your finger instead of the nail. The resulting pain is real. We cannot say that improper use of the hammer will do no harm.
In the same way, Ravana’s sinful deeds would catch up with him. Stealing another man’s wife, using underhanded tactics, and running away seemed to have no negative influence in the short term. But the king of Lanka couldn’t run away from the law, which would eventually find him.
2. Karma is real
Action and reaction. Do something and then wait for a consequence. The reaction may not manifest immediately. Neither is it guaranteed to stay forever. Insult a person in a high position of power and you may never live it down. Eat too many slices of pizza without thinking and the resulting indigestion might go away after a few hours.
Ravana and his men committed atrocities. They killed innocent people living in various places in the world. The people of Lanka were Rakshasas, which are like man-eating ogres. This means that Ravana and those working under him had no problem eating the flesh of the slain victims.
The actions were karma. That is to say there would be a future consequence, delivered at the appropriate time and matching the intensity of the crime. The comparison is made to the flowers blossoming on trees during the proper season.
3. Pious activities pay dividends in the future
Again, with studying only the still image this truth may not be evident. Ravana was enjoying in Lanka, with many beautiful queens. The pious sages in the forest were living in fear. They were living simply, not bothering anyone. Just worshiping God, helping to give strength to the residents of the heavenly region.
Ravana had a saintly younger brother named Vibhishana. The good counsel offered to Ravana was ignored. Another instance of pious deeds not paying off. Vibhishana felt compelled to leave his brother’s side from there. He would not tolerate Sita Devi being held against her will, which was also a great insult to Shri Rama.
The end result was Ravana’s demise and Vibhishana’s ascent. The ultimate pious activity of publicly choosing Rama’s side eventually earned him the throne of Lanka. This was not the brother’s intention, but service offered to the Supreme Lord always gets reciprocated in some way.
4. The negative consequences to sinful behavior eventually emerge
The appropriate time was the arrival of Shri Rama’s army, consisting of monkeys and bears. Sita Devi knew this would be the outcome, as it seemed to her that death was looking for Ravana, waiting to defeat him on the battlefield. Rama is death personified, as He is time and more.
For the present age of Kali, the dharma, or pious activity, to follow for every person is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Whatever thousand words the current picture has to offer are nothing in comparison to the beautiful, bright and auspicious future created through the shelter of the Divine, whose personal association arrives through the calls made to Him in love and devotion.
Truths from Ravana story revealed,
Like fate from sinful behavior sealed.
Picture telling something else though,
That enjoyment likely forever so.
Consequences to stealing none,
Remorse not for harm to others done.
But coming to him at appropriate time,
Shri Rama on battlefield to shine.
Categories: the four