“I have both heard about and seen the power of that great-soul in destroying His enemies on the battlefield. Neither the demigods, nor the Gandharvas, nor the serpents, nor the Rakshasas are equal to Him in conflict.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 37.63)
श्रुता हि दृष्टाश्च मया पराक्रमा महात्मनस्तस्य रणावमर्दिनः।
न देवगन्धर्वभुजङ्गराक्षसा भवन्ति रामेण समा हि संयुगे।।
śrutā hi dṛṣṭāśca mayā parākramā mahātmanastasya raṇāvamardinaḥ।
na devagandharvabhujaṅgarākṣasā bhavanti rāmeṇa samā hi saṃyuge।।
Sita Devi says not to worry. It is not necessary for Shri Hanuman to take her back to Rama’s side just yet. The Supreme Lord in that special incarnation, who also happens to be her husband, is unmatched in fighting ability. Sita has both heard about and witnessed firsthand this prowess, and she knows that many kinds of beings who are known to be powerful and capable still cannot match up with her husband, who is the protector of dharma.
The Sanskrit word is deva. The living entity is spirit soul at the core, and that soul is pure and spotless. The three distinguishing characteristics are sach-chid-ananda. The individual is eternal, knowledgeable, and full of bliss.
These characteristics get masked to varying degrees when a covering is accepted. The kind of covering is not uniform. That is to say one person may have a greater hindrance towards experiencing bliss than another. Intelligence and knowledge get covered, as well.
In the case of a bird, the living being can fly to different areas without the help of a navigation device. There is innate intelligence to some level. The human being cannot replicate that specific behavior, but they are generally considered more intelligent. Their body type is more conducive to intelligence, knowledge, rational thought, contemplation, and deliberate action.
The deva is a kind of elevated human being. They live for much longer and they enjoy material delights in greater abundance. In addition, they are quite powerful in comparison to the residents of earth. The devas live in the heavenly region, known as Svarga-loka in Sanskrit.
The devas can give benedictions to their worshipers, and from Vedic literature we learn that they battle against evil characters from time to time. The benefactors have abilities of their own that are used to squash uprisings of people with ill intent, who do not follow dharma.
These are also celestials, but a specific kind. They are known especially for their musical ability. They can sing wonderfully, and like the devas, the general purpose is to glorify the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are deputies in administration of the material world, which is like a shadow-copy of the spiritual realm.
The Sanskrit word is bhujanga. Not limited to the snakes one encounters in the jungle, there is the possibility of accepting a serpent-type body where there is tremendous ability. The famous incident of Kaliya described in the Bhagavata Purana is one example. He had many hoods and was able to poison the sacred Yamuna River. In that instance the Supreme Lord in the incarnation of Krishna took care of the situation.
This ogre-like species is particularly relevant in Sita’s claim to Hanuman. It was the Rakshasas who were holding her captive, preventing her from living happily with her husband. The Rakshasas were generally evil in nature; they used amazing abilities to take advantage of innocent people.
Shri Rama would defeat the Rakshasas without a problem, as He had done previously in the forest of Dandaka. He was actually on earth to defend the honor and good name of the devas. Gandharvas use their musical ability to praise Him, and the arrows released from Rama’s bow looked like serpents to the enemy.
नैव देवा महात्मानो नात्र कार्या विचारणा।
शरा रामेण तूत्सृष्टा रुक्मपुङ्खाः पतत्रिणः।।
सर्पाः पञ्चानना भूत्वा भक्षयन्ति स्म राक्षसान्।
येन येन च गच्छन्ति राक्षसा भयकर्शिताः।
तेन तेन स्म पश्यन्ति राममेवाग्रतः स्थितम्।
इत्थं विनाशितं तेन जनस्थानं तवानघ।।
naiva devā mahātmāno nātra kāryā vicāraṇā।
śarā rāmeṇa tūtsṛṣṭā rukmapuṅkhāḥ patatriṇaḥ।।
sarpāḥ pañcānanā bhūtvā bhakṣayanti sma rākṣasān।
yena yena ca gacchanti rākṣasā bhayakarśitāḥ।
tena tena sma paśyanti rāmamevāgrataḥ sthitam।
itthaṃ vināśitaṃ tena janasthānaṃ tavānagha।।
“Neither the demigods nor any exalted personalities were there helping Rama, for He acted alone. You should not entertain any doubt on this matter. Indeed, Rama shot feathered arrows, plated with gold, which turned into five-headed serpents that devoured all the Rakshasas. The Rakshasas were oppressed with fear, and wherever they went and wherever they turned, they saw Rama in front of them. In this way, O spotless one, have your Rakshasas been destroyed in the forest of Janasthana by Rama.” (Akampana speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 31.18-19)
As amazing beings residing in temporary bodies are no match for Sita’s husband, so too the forces of maya augmented by the dark age of Kali cannot overcome the power of devotion to Rama, practiced in any of the nine primary ways mentioned by Prahlada Maharaja. Just the chanting alone is enough to overcome attacking enemies: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
If steady opposition to mount,
From four categories’ count.
A match not against Rama still,
Who skies with arrows to fill.
Whether devas or Gandharvas flying,
Snakes or powerful Rakshasas trying.
Sita’s husband easily to defend,
Potency to holy name to extend.
Categories: the four