“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 ||
Friend1: Alright, don’t get mad at me here. I am going to make a reference to reality television in order to discuss a more serious principle.
Friend2: Who says reality television is not serious? Just kidding, but let’s see what you have.
Friend1: In many of these shows, there is periodic elimination. Someone has to go home.
Friend2: Oh, that is the entire drama of it. In each episode someone is sent packing. Sometimes by a house vote, sometimes through an elimination involving a physical challenge. You might even have a real estate mogul who makes the determination on who is hired and who is fired.
Friend1: It is interesting to see the psychology that goes into these things. If there is a deliberation in front of the entire house, one of the best moves is to stay silent.
Friend2: Keep quiet in the hopes of going unnoticed?
Friend1: Exactly. The first person to open their mouth essentially puts a target on their back. Anyway, I was watching recently and during the commentary another contestant made a reference to a drowning man. That you shouldn’t swim next to one.
Friend2: Oh, because they will pull you down with them.
Friend1: If a guy is about to get booted from the show, don’t be associated with them. Stay far away.
Friend2: Makes sense. It is a game of survival, after all.
Friend1: I was thinking that the tendency extends to real life, in general. People hang around the rich guy, but as soon as he loses his wealth, everyone leaves. They show their true colors.
Friend2: That they were only around for the money and prestige. They didn’t really care about the person.
Friend1: Fair-weather friend.
Friend2: Again, that is pretty common.
Friend1: In the Ramayana story, we don’t see that happening. Shri Rama is the heir apparent to the throne in Ayodhya. Then everything gets snatched away from Him. Without prior notice, in an instant, Queen Kaikeyi executes her plan to perfection.
Friend2: A tragedy to open that wonderful real-life drama, immortalized in the verses of Maharishi Valmiki.
Friend2: No one, that I know of. If they loved Him before, they loved Him after.
Friend1: It doesn’t make sense to me. What would they have to gain from the relationship?
Friend2: You mean after the severing from the royal kingdom?
Friend1: In the forest, living like a mendicant for fourteen years, Rama had nothing.
Friend2: Ah, but to Sita and Lakshmana there was everything. Lakshmana considered the elder brother to be just as worthy of association. Not only did he remain an associate, but Lakshmana vowed to continue in the servant role. If commanded for one hundred years straight, Lakshmana would continue to listen, take orders, and follow through.
Friend1: Which is an inconceivable level of devotion. Think about it further. Before dismissing the idea, consider that Rama really had nothing to offer to anyone.
Friend2: Character is everything. Nothing changed about Dasharatha’s eldest son. The circumstances did not make the man. The people knew He was something special. They would never abandon Him. This was the primary contributing factor to the appearance in that place.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: The Supreme Personality of Godhead can appear anywhere and everywhere. It is at His choosing. He usually won’t go places where there are enemies. Why reward the nonbelievers? Why not honor the supporters, the people who have stood by Him for lifetimes?
Friend1: Makes sense.
Friend2: The people did not care if He was king in the formal sense. He was always their leader. They knew that Rama prosecuted justice fairly and equally. Even the people brought to justice could not say a bad word about Rama. Think about that for a second.
Friend1: Difficult to comprehend since most of our government agencies are thoroughly corrupt. Whenever they investigate a crime, they are more than likely to have committed it in the first place.
Friend2: In time everything was corrected. The wrong became right. Rama was back on the throne. Though He eventually departed for the spiritual world, He is still the leader for those devoted to Him. He is always their king, and they will always sing His glories.
Always in leadership commanding,
As my everything standing.
With arrow and bow in hand,
To follow wherever to land.
Like Sita and Lakshmana so,
No other behavior to know.
Because even in forest residing,
As king of the world presiding.