“My husband Rama is famous throughout the world. He is pure, truthful, and very gentle. He is mighty-armed, has wide eyes, and is always busy working for the welfare of all living beings [sarva-bhuta-hite-ratah].” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.11)
रामेति प्रथितो लोके गुणवान्सत्यवान्शुचिः
विशालाक्षो महाबाहुस्सर्वभूतहिते रतः
rāmeti prathito loke guṇavānsatyavānśuciḥ
viśālākṣo mahābāhussarvabhūtahite rataḥ
Need help with that pothole down the street, the one that only seems to be growing in size as the weeks pass? Upset that your great health insurance plan got suddenly yanked from under you, now made illegal through legislation passed in the dark of night, without anyone reading it?
The politician can show you favor, but you have to give something in return. Even if they would like to be universally benevolent, there are just too many constituents to deal with on an individual basis. The person with the issue needs some way of standing out. If they can make a sizeable donation, someone in the higher office might sacrifice the time to hear.
As the leader of a community is a flawed human being, the limitations are understandable. The behavior is only natural. It is also not surprising that Bhagavan, when descending to earth and playing the role of king, is on the other side. He helps so many people and does not require anything in return.
In the Vedic tradition one prayer to the Divine addresses Him as brahmanya-devaya. He is the principal object of worship for the priestly class; those who know Brahman. The status is not based solely on heredity. There have to be accompanying qualifications in terms of attributes and exhibited behavior.
An example of Rama’s favor in this area occurs when He is ready to leave home for fourteen years. He is a wealthy prince, but through the help of His wife Sita the family gives away their riches to the priests. As much as the beneficiaries would prefer, even though they generally don’t require much.
2. Female ascetics
Men and women are different. If one complains about a double-standard in treatment, the reason is the difference in nature. The Sanskrit words of relevance are purusha and prakriti. One is the enjoyer and the other enjoyed. Just as spirit combines with material nature to produce the manifest world, so the union of a man and a woman leads to the population of human beings.
Rama is not partial to either side. He will help female ascetics, as seen in the interaction with Shabari. She is favored by her spiritual guides to such a great extent that she has the honor of receiving Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana as guests.
Being in the renounced situation, Shabari does not have much to offer in terms of hospitality. A few wild berries are greatly enjoyed by Rama, as He looks at the sentiment instead of the material value.
The Sanskrit is sarva-bhuta-hite ratah. Rama works for the welfare of all living beings; not just humans. Every living thing is a spirit soul at the core. The same kind of soul, but in different kinds of bodies.
Rama is related to them all, so it makes sense that He would extend His mercy to Vanara-kings like Sugriva. Bhagavan did not look down at this species, which gets its name from the habitat. The monkey-like creatures are dwellers of the vana, which means “forest.”
4. Younger brothers of Rakshasas
These are man-eating ogres. The lowest of the low. The worst of the worst. Even within that community we can find saintly people. Rama does not reject them. If they humbly approach Him for shelter, He will accept, as was the case with Vibhishana. That younger brother of Ravana could no longer tolerate the injustices and sinful life pervading Lanka.
Dasharatha’s eldest son is favorable to the bird named Jatayu. He was actually a good friend of Rama’s father. Rama grants the ultimate gift of liberation through direct interaction at the time of death. Jatayu quits his body while gazing at the beautiful, moonlike face of Sita’s husband.
What this means for me is that my bad qualities will be overlooked. An employer may not behave the same way. They are seeking expert qualifications, after all. The politician will ignore me because of my lack of significance within the business community. My family might turn me away after I cannot produce enough to maintain an expensive house and car.
But if I sincerely chant the holy names, there is one person who will notice: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The whole world might abandon me, but never the elder brother of Lakshmana.
For the welfare of beings all,
Even monkey a friend to call.
Should bode well for me,
As most merciful is He.
Categories: the five