“O chief of the Vanaras, who can withstand Rama, the destroyer in battle, fixed in determination like the elephants of the quarters of the earth, whose arrows resemble the rays of the sun at the end of a yuga, along with Lakshmana?” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 37.65)
सलक्ष्मणं राघवमाजिमर्दनं दिशागजं मत्तमिव व्यवस्थितम्।
सहेत को वानरमुख्य संयुगे युगान्तसूर्यप्रतिमं शरार्चिषम्।।
salakṣmaṇaṃ rāghavamājimardanaṃ diśāgajaṃ mattamiva vyavasthitam।
saheta ko vānaramukhya saṃyuge yugāntasūryapratimaṃ śarārciṣam।।
As Shri Rama states in the Ramayana, for the mature human being there is no greater fear than death. That is the only guaranteed outcome moving forward. The rest of the future is uncertain. The comparison is to the ripened fruit. It hangs from the tree and has no other fate than to fall. Everything else necessary has reached completion.
यथा फलानां पक्वानां नान्यत्र पतनाद्भयम्।
एवं नरस्य जातस्य नान्यत्र मरणाद्भयम्।।
yathā phalānāṃ pakvānāṃ nānyatra patanādbhayam।
evaṃ narasya jātasya nānyatra maraṇādbhayam।।
“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)
The human being develops this fear, which is above what the animal species experiences. This is due to enhanced intelligence. Rational thought, sober analysis, incorporating both personal experience and outside testimony, studying both the present and the past – the indisputable conclusion is that every person must die.
Naturally, there is some worry. When will the end occur? What will happen afterwards? Is there a way to prolong the onset, to run further away from the oncoming train that is death? What is the state of being subsequent? Does a person cease to exist?
The Vedas answer these questions and more, particularly through the sacred conversation known as the Bhagavad-gita. The individual is spirit soul at the core, which means that they can never be killed. Kala, or time, which is also synonymous with death, is merely a factor of a material existence. Time works alongside fruitive activity, the material nature, and the desires of the individuals residing in temporary bodies.
Something for which a person should be afraid but often overlooks is nature. More specifically, how to guarantee that everything will continue functioning properly in the future? I make plans for retirement; that is the long term. I make plans for the weekend; that is the short term. Yet if the sun burns out, if it loses the heat and light properties, none of my plans will manifest as desired. There won’t be an existence to consider.
The same applies for the earth. What if one day it suddenly falls out of orbit? No longer a certain number of miles away from the sun, will the properties of nature change? Will the earth get colder or warmer? Will it be habitable for human beings?
The Vedas describe that the various quarters of earth have respective guardians. They are something like elephants, and they are fixed in their positions. That is the reason nature can be counted on. It is taken for granted precisely because there are entities in place who are fixed in their vow. They cannot be shaken.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Sita Devi makes a comparison to these elephants when describing how formidable her husband is on the battlefield. Shri Rama cannot be defeated. He cannot be shaken by the enemy. He can be counted on for victory in the same way that we don’t worry the earth will fall out of place.
Rama is aided by His younger brother Lakshmana. The two are destroyers of the enemy. Rama’s arrows are the weapon of choice and they resemble rays of the sun. Not just any sun, either. The one that appears at the end of a yuga, which is a large measurement of time. The end of a yuga is something like the end of the world, wherein everything gets destroyed. Nevertheless, as God and the material nature are both eternal, creation will commence at some point thereafter.
As the earth is fixed in its orbit, as the sun at the time of dissolution succeeds in its task, as Lakshmana stands by ready to serve, so the Supreme Lord will always win. This mercy extends to His servant, to whom He offers protection. Therefore the wisest among men take shelter of Rama first, knowing that watering the roots of the tree ensures that the branches and leaves automatically get nourished. In the age of Kali, which is one division of a single, smaller yuga, the same shelter arrives through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Fear since of death to know,
But what if out of orbit to go?
The earth in air now suspended,
If somehow far down descended?
Vedas describing that elephants four,
Stable in position of upholding for.
Same reason Rama victorious to emerge,
When with brother on Lanka to converge.