“That best among men would not go to sleep without Him, nor would he eat without Him, even if the food brought was very palatable.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Bala Kand, 18.30)
न च तेन विना निद्रां लभते पुरुषोत्तम ।।
मृष्टमन्नमुपानीतमश्नाति न हि तं विना ।
na ca tena vinā nidrāṃ labhate puruṣottama ||
mṛṣṭamannamupānītamaśnāti na hi taṃ vinā |
If there is a God, how does He behave? What should the ideal interaction be? Shy and reserved? Open and honest? Make fun of Him? Take jabs at others, to see if you can get Him to laugh with you?
A meeting is not out of the realm of possibility, and from the avatara of Shri Rama we see that there can be different kinds of interaction. When seated for a meal in the royal home in Ayodhya, the Supreme Lord shows how close others can be with Him.
1. It’s okay to nag Bhagavan
Sometimes I just don’t want to be bothered. Let me focus on the task at hand. If I am watching a game on television, I don’t need others sitting there asking questions every two minutes. It presents a distraction. Let me concentrate.
But what happens if someone doesn’t respect my wishes? What if someone decides to nag the Supreme Lord? Will He mind? With the mothers in Ayodhya, Shri Rama has to listen. If they want to offer more food, He can politely decline, but they are not obliged to comply. After all, mother knows best. You may be the origin of the universe, but in this house you are a dependent requiring care and attention.
2. He is helpless to offerings made in love
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu faced a similar problem. People would offer Him palatable food preparations. The abundance was too much to fathom, and He felt an obligation to be polite. At the same time, for a person officially in the renounced order, sannyasa, controlling the tongue is paramount. Limit speaking nonsense and eat only enough to keep the body healthy.
Nevertheless, God is helpless in the face of His devotees. If they continue with offerings of love, He must accept. If they wish to sit next to Him, He cannot run away. If someone wants to always remember Him through chanting the holy names, the non-different sound vibration gets produced: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
3. His brothers don’t fight with Him
The term is “sibling rivalry.” One child never gets yelled at by the mother. Another one is on the constant receiving end of criticism and harsh words. That child wonders why no one else in the family endures the same treatment. Jealousy is a likely byproduct.
Even in Rama’s family there was a hint of jealousy at a particularly well-documented moment. Queen Kaikeyi succumbed to the persuasive words of her servant. She became jealous at the fact that Rama would be the next queen instead of her own son, Bharata.
Yet between the brothers there was never a hint of rivalry. Each one loved Rama so much, even though they divided in pairs since the time of birth. Though Bharata and Shatrughna were known to stay together, they had just as much allegiance to the eldest Rama as Lakshmana did.
4. Meditation can occur while engaging the senses
In the Bhagavad-gita we learn that a yogi controls their eating and sleeping. Not extreme in either direction. Sleep enough, but not more. Don’t starve, but eat to keep the body going.
Yet even in enjoyment, bhoga, a person can be fixed in meditation, dhyana. Sitting down for a meal and being at the side of Shri Rama is no different than worshiping Him in the temple. It is the same as remembering Him, which may be considered a more acceptable devotional activity.
5. A template for deity worship
The image of Rama sitting with His brothers is a model for how deity worship should be conducted. Feed the chief resident in the established place of worship. Allow Him ample time to enjoy, and make sure there is sufficient quantity for everyone seated. The less intelligent person may discount the efficacy of the process due to the perceived lifelessness of the forms on the altar, but through His mercy Bhagavan accepts and wholeheartedly reciprocates the loving exchanges.
Brothers in arranged seating,
For prepared offerings eating.
Must consume what given so,
Bhagavan powerless to say no.
That act of bhoga not,
Same benefit as meditation got.
For deity process showing the way,
Possible close with Rama to stay.
Categories: the five