“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)
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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।।
Travelling back in time is one way to understand God. More than believing that He exists, beyond faith extended to be confirmed only at a later date, after this lifetime ends, come to a firm understanding in the existence of an Almighty being, one who is beyond this world.
In this reverse direction God is known as anadi. He is without a beginning. Travel as far as the mind can conceive, to the beginning of the beginning, and then know that God existed at that time. He is before everyone else, and so He is automatically the oldest person.
Since He is not lacking any feature, Bhagavan, which is another name for God, can be understood by travelling in the other direction, also. Move forward. Contemplate the future. Extend as far out into time as you can imagine, and you get an understanding of the ananta feature.
1. Without end
There is no limit. Consider the end of time. Doomsday. Armageddon. The complete destruction of everything. In Vedic literature we learn that an empowered being takes responsibility at this time.
Mahadeva, the great god, also known as Lord Shiva, destroys that which was previously created by Lord Brahma and subsequently maintained by Lord Vishnu. Time does not stop after this event. Markandeya Rishi observed one of these periods of destruction and noticed that a small boy on a banyan leaf was not bothered at all:
स त्वं भृतो मे जठरेण नाथ
कथं नु यस्योदर एतद् आसीत्
विश्वं युगान्ते वट-पत्र एकः
शेते स्म माया-शिशुर् अङ्घ्रि-पानः
sa tvaṁ bhṛto me jaṭhareṇa nātha
kathaṁ nu yasyodara etad āsīt
viśvaṁ yugānte vaṭa-patra ekaḥ
śete sma māyā-śiśur aṅghri-pānaḥ
“As the Supreme Personality of Godhead, You have taken birth from my abdomen. O my Lord, how is that possible for the supreme one, who has in His belly all the cosmic manifestation? The answer is that it is possible, for at the end of the millennium You lie down on a leaf of a banyan tree, and just like a small baby, You lick the toe of Your lotus foot.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.33.4)
That boy was Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is never with an end. Ananta means that we can travel as far into the future as we can conceive and we will always find the Supreme Lord, as powerful as ever.
Ananta also means that Bhagavan is without limits. In the temple we see His statue worshiped on the altar, alongside the statue of His eternal consort, Lakshmi Devi. The figure has a certain height, width and weight, but we should not be fooled by the visual.
The Supreme Lord can become heavier than anything we imagine. When the whirlwind demon named Trinavarta took baby Krishna high into the air, he figured it would be an easy path forward. He did not expect that Krishna would suddenly become too heavy to hold. So heavy, in fact, that He caused the demon to fall from the sky, hitting the ground and meeting his death.
Though Bhagavan gives the visual of a human-like bow-warrior as Shri Rama, the weapons are unlimited in number. They always reach their intended target, no matter how much the enemies run. Akampana once gave his eyewitness testimony of this amazing truth to the ten-headed Ravana.
Rama was one against fourteen-thousand. But since Rama is ananta, it wasn’t a fair fight. His arrows chased the enemy to wherever they went. In the end, they saw the arrows giving the visual of a five-headed serpent, signaling guaranteed defeat and death.
3. Never any death
Since Bhagavan is ananta, He never dies. There is no way I can prove this through the scientific method. Even if I personally observed His vibrancy, where Krishna is standing next to me, for a million years, that amount of time is insufficient for establishing an infinite existence.
We accept the information on faith, at first. The acharya of the Vaishnava tradition explains these truths to us, and then we validate through dedicated practice in devotion, through activities such as chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
In whichever direction to go,
Arrows chasing them so.
Like serpents showing heads five,
While warrior Rama still alive.
Ananta property on display,
To the demons’ dismay.
Infinite into future like this amend,
Seeing devotion’s bliss to extend.
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