“O Rama, You should know that just as fish cannot survive when taken out of water, neither Sita nor I can live without You for even a moment.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 53.31)
न च सीता त्वया हीना न चाहमपि राघव।
मुहूर्तमपि जीवावो जलान्मत्स्याविनोद्धृतौ।।
na ca sītā tvayā hīnā na cāhamapi rāghava।
muhūrtamapi jīvāvo jalānmatsyāvinoddhṛtau।।
1. Detaching from that which is insignificant
Someone who is dear to you just got cheated out of their job. It was blatant. No hiding it from anyone. It was almost as if the theft was live-streamed on the internet, for the entire world to witness. The majority of the population understands the truth, but if you ask anyone in power, they deny.
“You have no evidence for that. That claim has been widely debunked. You better show some serious evidence if you want to continue with such accusations.”
The end-result has been extreme sadness. You are devastated at how the world operates. You could not be more disappointed in your fellow man. If this is what happens to innocent people, then why should anyone follow the law moving forward? It is a society of animals.
Yet the perspective from shastra is to detach from that which is temporary. Avoid association, asat-tyaga. It is difficult to implement, for sure. We have invested so much in these outcomes. Our outrage won’t subside so easily. We reached our boiling point a long time ago.
2. Never letting go of that which is the most important
The corresponding teaching favors sat-sanga. Stay with that which is permanent. Though the experience in this world is something like a dream, there is a reality. The living entity is sat, or eternal. Other living beings are the same way, though through the temporary coverings and their component changes we lose sight of that truth.
Those who understand the eternal nature of the living entity are sat, and these are the people with whom we should remain. The sat individuals are dedicated to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the only person with a steady non-divergence in identity. His body and soul are always the same; there is no distinction with Him.
We have the division at present, and we will continue to remain in duality for as long as the sat association is not pure. Thus spiritual life is a serious business; the most important, in fact. To simply become detached from asat is not enough; that will only take us so far.
A vivid illustration of these principles is the real-life history of the Ramayana. We have the situation of Sita Devi and Lakshmana. They could harbor extended resentment over the affairs in Ayodhya. Shri Rama, the eldest son of King Dasharatha, was preparing to become the next king, as previously announced by the authority.
Suddenly, everything changed. Rama had done nothing wrong; He was cheated from a post He rightfully deserved. To make matters worse, He was treated like a criminal. He was sent to jail for fourteen years, except instead of incarceration, it was banishment from the kingdom.
Lakshmana, one of the dedicated younger brothers to Rama, was outraged over the treatment. He could have stayed in Ayodhya and fought for justice, but he decided to accompany Rama to the forest. Asat in the control of a kingdom was not important to him.
Sita Devi, Rama’s wife, did the same. Lakshmana later explained that to both of them Rama was dear as the water to fish. When taken out of the water, fish cannot survive for long. Devoid of Rama’s association, neither Sita nor Lakshmana could go on with life.
यं यं वापि स्मरन् भावं
त्यजत्य् अन्ते कलेवरम्
तं तम् एवैति कौन्तेय
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ
tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya
“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)
Their behavior embodies pure devotion. The Supreme Lord is the only way. Sita and Lakshmana chose to stay with God for the purpose of service. They were not taking anything from Him; only giving. This outlook on life will be most beneficial to me in the long-run, which involves leaving this world and moving to someplace else, based on the state of being at the time of death.
Shri Rama the only way,
So not in Ayodhya to stay.
Following wherever to go,
As life and soul to know.
Relevant also for me,
Since death ultimately to see.
Consciousness when fixed at time,
Most auspicious destination to find.
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