“O Rama, for as long as You shall stand before me, even if it be for one hundred years, I will always remain Your servant. Therefore You should be the one to choose a beautiful and appropriate place for the cottage. After You have selected a spot, please then command me to start building.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 15.7)
परवानस्मि काकुत्स्थ त्वयि वर्षशतं स्थिते |
स्वयं तु रुचिरे देशे क्रियतामिति मां वद ||
paravānasmi kākutstha tvayi varṣaśataṃ sthite |
svayaṃ tu rucire deśe kriyatāmiti māṃ vada ||
The Ramayana describes how the four sons of King Dasharatha came to this world. That pious leader had everything going for him. Healthy, happy and protected citizens. Beautiful queens. The trust of the people. Faith from the suras, the demigods in heaven. Dasharatha earned his name from the amazing ability to defend against enemies approaching from the ten directions simultaneously.
In old age, there was one thing missing: an heir to the throne. Through a chance meeting with Rishya-shringa, the leader prepared a special yajna. This sacrifice yielded a kind of pudding that was then distributed to the three queens. Half a portion went to Kausalya, and the other half was divided amongst Sumitra and Kaikeyi.
That half portion to Kausalya led to the janma of Shri Rama, who is thus considered a full incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This is the personal God. The same Almighty Being worshiped since time immemorial and known to varying degrees by the many faiths in practice, the image of Vishnu removes ambiguity, giving a clearer picture of the person to whom we share attributes but also remain distinct.
Three other sons were born from the remaining portion of the prasadam distributed to the queens. One of those brothers is named Lakshmana, and he is considered an incarnation of Ananta Shesha Naga, who is an eternal associate of Vishnu in the spiritual realm of Vaikuntha. It is therefore not surprising that Lakshmana would exhibit amazing abilities Himself.
1. Can go without sleep
The Ramayana describes that the four brothers essentially paired up. This began from childhood. Bharata and Shatrughna were close, and Lakshmana was always with Rama. Lakshmana would wait until Rama had gone to sleep to do the same. Similar behavior with regards to eating.
Lakshmana can be likened to a number one protector. A voluntarily-enlisted bodyguard. Someone who will do everything for Rama, without being asked. If anything negative should happen to befall the eldest brother, Lakshmana will try his best to share in the misfortune.
This explains the behavior in the forest, where the brothers happened to find themselves for a long time. In adulthood, Rama was banished from the kingdom as a result of family infighting. Lakshmana refused to stay in Ayodhya. He insisted upon accompanying Rama, and his mother, Sumitra, gave her blessings to the decision.
Sita Devi, Rama’s wife, insisted on the same. Just as obstinate, Rama could not deny her choice for service. Thus the three roamed the forest together, going from place to place, trying to essentially run out the clock set for fourteen years.
Amazingly, during that time Lakshmana would not sleep. He would maintain a watchful eye at night. As the brothers were of the kshatriya order, it was in their blood, so to speak, to defend the innocent against injury.
This lack of sleep was not a hindrance on ability. Lakshmana was just as vigilant during the daytime. He maintained a watchful eye on Rama’s interests, to the best that his abilities and circumstances would allow.
2. Can build a house from scratch
Each individual has their own kind of genius inside. One person may be skilled at composition, another at singing. One person can write code for a computer program, while another is great at any kind of work involving hands. This means that we can certainly find individuals who can build a house on their own, when given the proper materials and tools.
But what about building a hut from scratch, without any supplier nearby? Living in the wild, no screwdrivers, no saw, no drill, and no planks of wood. Lakshmana can do it, and the resulting dwelling is fit enough for the Supreme Lord to live in.
Lakshmana is not bothered in the least by such a task. He openly admits that if Rama were to assign such duties for one hundred years straight, Lakshmana would remain just as eager. This embodies the spirit of the guru, who is the spiritual master representing the interests of Vishnu.
3. Can deliver timeless wisdom when needed
The exile to the forest was not the end of the tragedies for the group. Eventually, Rama lost the association of Sita. She was taken away in secret, after a deceitful plot was implemented by the king of Lanka. A man-eating ogre, Ravana enlisted the help of his trusted servant, Maricha, to take Sita without a fight.
In the immediate aftermath, Rama was so upset that He was ready to destroy the entire world. Revenge for the wrong committed against an innocent person. Vishnu has this ability, as destruction is already destined to take place, enacted by Lord Shiva at the appropriate time.
Lakshmana helped talk Rama off the ledge, so to speak. He delivered timeless wisdom that he readily admitted was previously given to him by Rama. The guru follows the same behavior. They hear from their teacher and they also assimilate the principles. It is for this reason that they are able to rescue others from despair, recommending the method of liberation for the present age: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Appropriate for time and place,
When this difficult age to face.
That towards liberation bound,
Rescued immediately by sound.
Message from guru confidently delivered,
In mood of Lakshmana considered.
Who without sleep at night,
Diligent to dangers in sight.
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