Collateral Damage In A Bitter Feud

[Rama-Lakshmana]“O Lakshmana, do you rule this earth with Me. You are like My second self, so this glorious opportunity has been presented to you as well. O Saumitra, do you enjoy all the pleasures you desire and the fruits of the regal life. My life and this kingdom I covet for your sake alone.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 4.43-44)

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लक्ष्मणेमां मया सार्धं प्रशाधि त्वं वसुन्धराम्।
द्वितीयं मेऽन्तरात्मानं त्वामियं श्रीरुपस्थिता।।
सौमित्रे भुङ्क्ष्व भोगांत्स्वमिष्टान्राज्यफलानि च।
जीवितं च हि राज्यं च त्वदर्थमभिकामये।।

lakṣmaṇemāṃ mayā sārdhaṃ praśādhi tvaṃ vasundharām।
dvitīyaṃ me’ntarātmānaṃ tvāmiyaṃ śrīrupasthitā।।
saumitre bhuṅkṣva bhogāṃtsvamiṣṭānrājyaphalāni ca।
jīvitaṃ ca hi rājyaṃ ca tvadarthamabhikāmaye।।

It is a tough situation. You are not really sure what to do. The first person has been your friend for years. Through thick and thin. You can always count on them. Whether you are up or down, whether in sickness or in health, whether feeling jovial or totally depressed over the recent turn of events, this friend is there.

The second person has not been a friend for long. You met them only recently, but the bond is tight. You are on the best of terms and you can’t imagine a more stand-up person to be associated with. It is a blessing to have found such a friend so late in life.

The issue is that these two people are involved in conflict. A bitter feud. Differences that cannot be settled reasonably. Though you know the first friend since a long time back, you think they are in the wrong. At least in this situation.

But if you take the side of either person, it will not be good. Both sides want you to weigh in, to make a judgment, but why get caught in the middle? There is the potential for losing both friends, for missing out on desirable association.

It is not uncommon for even the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be stuck in the middle. He ended up being the collateral damage in one incident described in the Ramayana of Valmiki. Everything was otherwise going well. King Dasharatha was ready to pass the throne to his eldest son.

[Rama-Lakshmana]Shri Rama, an avatara of Vishnu, who is the personal God, loved His brothers so much that He immediately thought of approaching Lakshmana and extending the offer. The two would rule together. No need for rivalry. No jealousy. What belonged to Rama also belonged to the younger brother.

The Supreme Lord got caught in the middle when one of Dasharatha’s queens grew envious. She had to be prodded in that direction. The servant named Manthara was the instigator. Goddess Sarasvati blessed her with the ability to speak just the right words to change the mind.

Kaikeyi wanted her son to be the next king instead of Rama. Bharata was also beloved in the community, but Rama was the eldest. She did not care for the standard protocols. To add insult to injury, she demanded that Rama be banished from the kingdom for fourteen years.

The root cause was envy of another queen. Rama was born to Kausalya and Bharata to Kaikeyi. Dasharatha did not mind the first request. Bharata would not agree, but Rama would have no problem. But the second wish was like a knife in the back. A deathblow, in time validated in the literal sense.

Controlling desire is not easy. Kama is the great devouring enemy of this world, as confirmed by Shri Krishna in Bhagavad-gita. Unfulfilled desire leads to anger, which causes delusion and a loss of intelligence.

श्री-भगवान् उवाच
काम एष क्रोध एष
महाशनो महा-पाप्मा
विद्ध्य् एनम् इह वैरिणम्

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
kāma eṣa krodha eṣa
mahāśano mahā-pāpmā
viddhy enam iha vairiṇam

“The Blessed Lord said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.” (Bhagavad-gita, 3.37)

If I act selfishly, I may get what I want, but at the expense of others. Not just the person losing out on the object over which the competition is waged, but also the people coming in between, who otherwise have no interest in the outcome.

[Shri Rama]Whereas if I act in the interest of the Supreme Lord, everyone benefits. Dharma emerges victorious over kama, and with that an increased chance of escaping the future cycle of birth and death, to which the kama-controlled are bound.

In Closing:

To future cycle bound,
Again birth-death found.

When kama controlling,
Sway over mind holding.

Sometimes others caught in between,
Like in Ayodhya pitiable scene.

When interest towards Rama to steer,
Best outcome for everyone clear.

Categories: for his brothers

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