“Being prayed for by the demigods, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth Himself, directly appeared with His expansion and expansions of the expansion. Their holy names were Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna. These celebrated incarnations thus appeared in four forms as the sons of Maharaja Dasharatha.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.10.2)
तस्यापि भगवान् एष
साक्षाद् ब्रह्ममयो हरिः
पुत्रत्वं प्रार्थितः सुरैः
शत्रुघ्ना इति संज्ञया
tasyāpi bhagavān eṣa
sākṣād brahmamayo hariḥ
putratvaṁ prārthitaḥ suraiḥ
śatrughnā iti saṁjñayā
Friend1: Listen, I know about the different methods for passing through a difficult time. This is with respect to Vedic teachings, recommendations and the like.
Friend2: There is more than one way? We’re not supposed to just tolerate, as Shri Krishna advises with respect to the winter and summer seasons?
मात्रा-स्पर्शास् तु कौन्तेय
तांस् तितिक्षस्व भारत
mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya
tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata
“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)
Friend1: Tips. Advice. Helpful hints. You’ll hear a saintly person say something like, “Pray to Lord Narasimha. He will protect you from danger. Do this especially when you are scared.” Sometimes the recommendations come directly from the sacred text. “Think of Garuda when you are in trouble with snakes.”
Friend2: If you hear about the Kaliya story, you get some similar benefit. If you listen attentively to the affair of the Syamantaka Jewel, you will be protected from defamation. Your good name won’t be dishonestly ruined.
Friend1: One of the recommendations that I particularly like is from Goswami Tulsidas. I forget in which work he says this, but the idea is to take the names of Shri Rama and His brothers prior to any important task.
Friend2: Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna.
Friend1: The four sons to King Dasharatha. Rama is Bhagavan directly, and the brothers are like partial expansions of the same Supreme Lord.
Friend2: The Sanskrit word is amsha, which references an expansion.
Friend1: Just talking about the recommendation gives me so much pleasure. It is so easy to forget Bhagavan throughout the day. Any chance to remember Him is pleasing to the heart.
Friend2: For sure.
Friend1: Here is my question. What if I run into failure after the fact? I invoke these names prior to something important, where I am nervous over the outcome. It could be public speaking.
Friend2: Alright. I’m glad you provided a more concrete example.
Friend1: I am nervous on the stage, standing before the podium. Internally, I repeat these names to myself. I remember who they are and ask for some assistance. Afterwards, the speech goes okay, but it isn’t great. In my mind, I haven’t succeeded.
Friend2: Let’s say that there was total failure instead. You were too nervous to utter a word. You had to flee from the stage because of the embarrassment.
Friend1: Oh, I like that outcome better! It helps with my presentation. Alright, so an utter disaster ensued. Is there not a risk to the process, then?
Friend2: What kind of risk?
Friend1: That I will lose faith in Bhagavan. I took His names and it didn’t work. I might lose faith in Tulsidas, as well.
Friend2: Hmm, that is interesting. Listen, we are not supposed to ask God for anything material. Nature already provides what is allotted to us. Karma is inherently fair. Still, to reach the standard of pure devotion is rather difficult.
Friend1: Precisely. That is why I am worried someone may not be helped by such recommendations.
Friend2: The thing is, you are being helped. That time spent in the association of those four brothers is never wasted. You are better served by that association than by one hundred percent success in the endeavor. Do you see what I mean?
Friend1: I think so. What if I am crying after the fact? I feel terrible at having failed.
Friend2: You can be so thankful, did you know that?
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: You can think along these lines:
“Bhagavan, you are so kind to me. Perhaps because of the ahankara, the false ego, I wanted to impress everyone at the assembly. Instead, you brought me back to earth. You made sure that I didn’t get too puffed up. I can’t thank you enough for that. No one looks out for me the way that you do.”
Friend1: Oh, I like that. Basically, it is all Bhagavan’s mercy, no matter what happens.
Friend2: Which saints like Tulsidas will gladly explain to you, if you invest the time to hear further. Happiness and sadness come on their own, but connecting with God is a rare opportunity. Use every chance to do so, and it will do the most good for you in the long run, meeting the supreme interest, paramartha.
Best for you done,
When thinking long in run.
When names of brothers taking,
But even after failure making.
Since to them devoted,
To high consciousness promoted.
As mercy of Bhagavan accepting,
Your bhakti life protecting.