“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)
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।।
“I love the definition of the word Bhagavan provided by Parashara Muni. It is helpful since otherwise everyone can basically create their own idea of the Almighty. God means something different to each person, to the point that one class may even get triggered into a rage upon the mere sound of the word.
“There is variety in desire, after all. To fulfill such desires, a person can create a system of life, a way of living. Since the generic term of God is open to interpretation, exploitation, and intentional malfeasance, anyone can say that God is the support behind their system to fulfill a certain desire.
“Even the thief could make such a claim. They want to plunder the wealth of the nation. They want to rise to power, while bringing down the common man, essentially turning them into beggars. Running for office, gaining popular support through a complicit media, running cover for their operation, the candidate could say that God supports their objectives.
“Bhagavan takes away the ambiguity. This word says that God is a distinct individual, a person. He is purusha, while in comparison everyone else is prakriti. He is the enjoyer, and we are the enjoyed. He is the origin of everything, and we are sparks emanating from Him.
“One of the attributes of Bhagavan is strength. He possesses balam to the highest degree. What does this mean, exactly? How do we explain to someone, since it is difficult to comprehend without seeing firsthand evidence?”
Another word to describe the same person says that His features are beyond the measurement of blunt instruments. Bhagavan is Adhokshaja, which in turn makes impossible an accurate reading on His strength, among other attributes.
We are left with relative comparisons to provide an understanding. For instance, we have the attack on Janasthana described in the Ramayana poem of Valmiki. This is a historical incident memorialized in beautiful Sanskrit poetry, passed down through the ages via the parampara system.
On one side is the leader of Lanka. Known as Ravana, he was cursed to take birth in the form of a Rakshasa, which is a hideous-looking man-eating ogre. Through supplication of the right benefactors, Ravana rose to tremendous power and strength, so much so that his mere presence could drive away would-be opponents.
Ravana sent fourteen thousand of his men, Rakshasas in their own right, to descend upon the forest area of Janasthana. This was to attack, to inflict lethal harm. The army knew of the target, and they were ready to return home successful and pleased.
On the other side was one man. Shri Rama, an avatara of Bhagavan, appearing on earth specifically to deal with threats like Ravana and other enemies to the righteous way of living, dharma. These appearances take place periodically, as described in Bhagavad-gita.
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य
ग्लानिर् भवति भारत
तदात्मानं सृजाम्य् अहम्
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
This is not a mistake in the storytelling. There is no exaggeration. It was literally one against fourteen-thousand. We can get an idea of full strength by realizing that Bhagavan can successfully defend Himself against a massive army. There was no impenetrable shield provided by nature, such as a cave, cliff, waterfall, or manmade wall. There were no supporters hiding in the background, providing assistance.
Rama used only His bow and arrows. The enemy was soundly defeated. They ran away in fear, but the arrows continued to chase them. Those weapons gave the vision of five-headed serpents at the end. We know of the truth because of the eyewitness testimony provided by Akampana, who managed to escape the barrage and return to Lanka. He filled Ravana in on the details.
In truth, Rama can defend against fourteen million attackers, if necessary. These incidents are important to remember because they allow us to glorify the Almighty, which is the natural course of living. He is the object of service, and we are meant to serve. He can protect us against whatever the material world throws, facilitating the continued opportunity to bask in the greatness of His holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
From arrows travelling long,
Showing exactly how strong.
On Janasthana descending where,
Thousands of Rakshasas there.
Against man only one,
Who easily battle won.
Providing glimpse into strength,
With God immeasurable length.