“How can that female swan who is accustomed to sporting with the king of swans amidst lotus flowers ever cast her eyes on a water-crow that stays amidst bunches of grass?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 56.20)
They are supposed to be brahmanas. This is the priestly class. Distinct from the warriors, the businessmen and the laborers, there is a typical body type associated with the occupation, whose qualifications come from guna and karma, or material quality and work.
“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.13)
The devotees of the Lord, coming in different shapes and sizes, are actually above the brahmanas. That is to say they possess the qualities of a person in the priestly class and more. They are not simply realized in the spiritual truth, that of Brahman. They are not tied to a specific occupation. They can be in any form, even one taking a subordinate role, like a wife or princess.
One example is Sita Devi. Though she is actually the goddess of fortune, pure devotion is what defines her; she is never outside of that way of life. From her time in Lanka, we see the contradictory sides that simultaneously exist in a pure devotee.
1. Strong and tough in their determination
Just because a person is not very muscular or athletic does not mean they lack strength. A person may be kind, smiling constantly, and happily chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. But the peaceful disposition does not prevent them from enduring difficult situations in a way that few others could.
Sita Devi was in Lanka against her will. She did not want to travel there. She had no interest in the king, Ravana, who wanted her to be his chief queen. Ravana used trickery to take Sita away from her husband Rama, and he tried every tactic he knew to win her over.
As nothing worked, he resorted to harassment and the threat of lethal punishment. Though in a park-like setting, with Ashoka trees surrounding, Sita was bothered day and night by Ravana’s attendants. These were ghoulish-looking creatures, known for eating human flesh. There was no respite; Sita had to endure while sleeping and awake.
2. Kind and compassionate towards the fallen
Since her thoughts were fixed on her husband, Sita was in full yoga. Her husband is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who kindly descends to earth whenever and wherever certain conditions are met.
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)
That yoga allowed her to endure. She toughed it out, so to speak. She received help now and then, such as from Rama’s representative Hanuman and indirectly through Ravana’s younger brother Vibhishana.
Eventually Rama arrived in Lanka with a massive army to win His wife back. He didn’t have to use trickery like Ravana. In the chivalrous manner, showing courage and fortitude, Rama defeated Ravana in battle. When it was time to reunite with Sita, Rama sent Hanuman to bring her.
The dedicated servant, now basking in victory for his side, remembered the torture Sita had endured. Hanuman asked permission to kill the perpetrators. The potential slaying was justified, but Sita gave pardon. The enmity ended with Ravana’s death. She also understood that they were simply following orders.
In this way the pure devotee is both strength and kindness personified. Apparently features which contradict, but both present and ready to be invoked when necessary and appropriate. These features are found in the Supreme Lord, after all, and man is made in the image of God. Those who connect with Him are able to retrieve qualities appropriate to the situation to maintain their link to Him. This is the true power of yoga.
Endowed by Him to receive,
Qualities appropriate to retrieve.
For situation and time,
Bhakti of followers to shine.
Like Sita Devi in Lanka enduring,
Constant harassment from king ensuring.
But when Hanuman wanting to return,
Perpetrators her forgiveness to earn.
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