“As a ripe fruit has no other fear than to fall, so a man who is born has no other fear than death.” (Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 105.17)
यथा फलानां पक्वानां नान्यत्र पतनाद्भयम्।
एवं नरस्य जातस्य नान्यत्र मरणाद्भयम्।।
yathā phalānāṃ pakvānāṃ nānyatra patanādbhayam।
evaṃ narasya jātasya nānyatra maraṇādbhayam।।
The newborn is on a journey of constant discovery. One day they learn to turn over. The next they are moving from place to place, thrusting the legs forward. Not capable of extending the arms just yet, they make due with what they know.
That knowledgebase continues to expand with further experience. The parents are there to help teach more difficult concepts. A steady progression, starting with known objects and building upon them to reach ideas which were previously elusive.
As there is instruction involved, along with the parents the spiritual guide is also known as guru. Their word carries weight. They are heavy with teachings of substance. The highest value a person can have is the ability to rescue others from the cycle of birth and death. This is superior to providing food, clothing and shelter to last a lifetime. Even if so much wealth gets accumulated to support countless future generations, the benefit of moksha, or liberation, outweighs other priorities.
In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna has a discussion with the bow-warrior named Arjuna. That conversation features many analogies. This is for the benefit of the intelligent and sober human beings, who are interested in further learning.
In the Divine incarnation of Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord similarly invokes analogies to explain higher concepts. His close associates do the same, as the material world bears similarities to the spiritual world, being a perverted reflection of the original, which is the real thing as compared to the shadow copy.
1. Ripened fruit
We have experience with fruits and the different stages of maturity. Everything starts with a seed. Every type of seed is already found within the earth, in the same way that every kind of dharma, or system of religion, is automatically included in the chanting of the holy names.
जथा भूमि सब बीजमय नखत निवास अकास |
रामनाम सब धरममय जानत तुलसीदास ||
jathā bhūmi saba bījamaya nakhata nivāsa akāsa |
rāmanāma saba dharamamaya jānata tulasīdāsa ||
“Just as within the earth are found every kind of seed and within the sky live all the stars, Tulsidas knows that Shri Rama’s holy name is the reservoir of all dharma.” (Dohavali, 29)
Fruit tastes best when it is ripe. Raw is not so good, and neither is rotten. When the fruit becomes ripe, which indicates the passage of a certain amount of time, it is ready to fall off the tree. Shri Rama takes advantage of this commonly known aspect of nature to explain the fear of death found in human beings.
The entry point is the seed from the father, who implants it into the mother. The first visible stage of maturity is emerging from the womb in the event known as birth. From there every individual has an identical final destination. The mature human being understands this, and so they have no greater fear than death, which is like the ripened fruit ready to fall off the tree.
2. Fish out of water
People might be surprised to learn that this commonly used expression is found in the Ramayana, which was composed so long ago that it is not possible to apply an accurate date. Many millions of years ago is a safe bet.
न च सीता त्वया हीना न चाहमपि राघव।
मुहूर्तमपि जीवावो जलान्मत्स्याविनोद्धृतौ।।
na ca sītā tvayā hīnā na cāhamapi rāghava।
muhūrtamapi jīvāvo jalānmatsyāvinoddhṛtau।।
“O Rama, You should know that just as fish cannot survive when taken out of water, neither Sita nor I can live without You for even a moment.” (Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 53.31)
Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana uses the fish and its relationship to water to show just how strong the devotion is to Rama. The wife Sita feels similarly. Lakshmana and Sita are like fish out of water when not in the company of Rama. Their devotion is spontaneous and also constitutional; they simply cannot live without Him.
3. The blossoming tree
When first learning about karma, which is action and reaction related to a material body, a person might wonder why it seems some people don’t see the just and proper consequences to their bad behavior. The question is, “When will justice arrive?”
The truth is that the reactions may not be immediate. This is seen even with supposedly innocuous behavior. I am going away for the weekend. Prior to leaving the house, I remember to close the windows and unplug major appliances. I think I have everything covered, but one thing I forgot was the garbage. I did not empty the can that was in the kitchen.
The reaction to this “sin,” which is nothing more than an incorrect or improper action, will not arrive until later. When I come back from the weekend, I immediately notice the foul odor pervading the house. The cause is the garbage. If I had remembered to empty it prior to leaving, the problem would have been avoided.
अवश्यं लभते जन्तुः फलं पापस्य कर्मणः।
घोरं पर्यागते काले द्रुमाः पुष्पमिवार्तवम्।।
avaśyaṃ labhate jantuḥ phalaṃ pāpasya karmaṇaḥ।
ghoraṃ paryāgate kāle drumāḥ puṣpamivārtavam।।
“Just as a tree starts to blossom during the proper season, so the doer of sinful deeds inevitably reaps the horrible fruit of their actions at the appropriate time.” (Lord Rama speaking to Khara, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 29.8)
Shri Rama uses the blossoming tree to explain how the consequences to sinful deeds arrive. They may not manifest right away, but have patience. The trees blossom at the appropriate season, and so the murdering, man-eating ogres from Lanka would get the proper punishment in due course.
4. A bubble
Forming on the surface of the ocean, bubbles do not maintain shape for very long. Moreover, it is rather easy to break them; not much effort is needed. Shri Hanuman, the dedicated servant of Rama, uses this analogy to explain why it is not wise to overly lament the demise of another person.
शोच्या शोचसि कं शोच्यं दीनं दीनाऽनुकम्पसे।
कस्य कोवाऽनुशोच्योऽस्ति देहेऽस्मिन् बुद्बुदोपमे।।
śocyā śocasi kaṃ śocyaṃ dīnaṃ dīnā’nukampase।
kasya kovā’nuśocyo’sti dehe’smin budbudopame
“Whom are you lamenting for when you yourself are pitiable? Why do you pity the poor when you yourself have now been made poor? While in this body that is like a bubble, how can anyone look at anyone else as being worthy of lamentation?” (Hanuman speaking to Tara, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 21.3)
I feel sorry for someone else based on their situation. Perhaps they are destitute. Maybe they have fallen on hard times. Death and disease. Loss of a loved one. Nevertheless, every person is actually in just as precarious a condition. The body is like a bubble, and so the covering can burst at any moment. In this way I am not any different from you. We are all the same on the inside, spirit soul.
Analogies many in Gita found,
To provide understanding sound.
Shown also in sacred Ramayana,
Describing incarnation of Narayana.
Sita and Lakshmana not to live when forsaken,
Since like fish when out from water taken.
Sinner to pay at proper time indeed,
Like tree’s blossoming for horrible deed.
Categories: the four