“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।।
Friend1: After reading the Ramayana story enough times, you sort of get used to the events. You accept what happened without challenging anything.
Friend2: What would you challenge? That it isn’t actual history, that it is made-up?
Friend1: Oh, no. Not that. I certainly believe that Rakshasas exist and that you can be favored by the demigods to the point of dominating the world through devious tactics. I certainly believe in God and His ability to defeat these wicked characters through just bow and arrows.
Friend2: Then what is there to challenge?
Friend1: Maybe that is not the right word. For instance, when Rama gets banished from the kingdom of Ayodhya for fourteen years, we just accept it as a tragic event.
Friend2: We understand the lamentation of the people. We can relate with King Dasharatha, who had to make the tough decision.
Friend1: Okay, but can we relate? Why did the king have to agree to Kaikeyi’s requests, which were rooted in envy?
Friend2: He had previously promised her any two boons of her choosing. There were no conditions. He didn’t stipulate, “In the future, you can ask me anything, except having to do with my favorite son, of course.”
Friend1: Right, but if Dasharatha reneged, if he welshed, that would make everyone happy.
Friend2: It wasn’t the proper thing to do. If a king loses his word, if the people cannot trust him, then there is no leader.
Friend1: Let’s look at Lakshmana, Rama’s younger brother. He actually proposed mounting a coup. He asked Rama, “Who should be killed first?” I am more on that side of the argument. Something should have been done.
Friend2: Rama wouldn’t allow it. The eldest son accepted the wishes of the father. Nothing to fight against. The kingdom would be in good hands under the control of Bharata, who was Kaikeyi’s son.
Friend1: I don’t know. I would rather someone stand up and fight. Isn’t it sinful for everyone to allow injustice to take place?
Friend2: It’s a tragedy, for sure, but I don’t know if any laws were broken. Dasharatha was technically following dharma. Anyway, Lakshmana would not stick around. He decided to accompany Rama to the forest for fourteen years.
Friend1: So did Sita Devi, Rama’s wife.
Friend2: The comparison is to fish taken out of water. They cannot survive for long in that situation.
Friend1: Does that mean we are free to give up the world and follow Rama to wherever He goes?
Friend2: That is the true embodiment of dharma. Pure devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. At least at the consciousness level, renounce that which is temporary. Renounce in the sense of interest.
Friend1: Which means that even some of the people who stayed behind in Ayodhya could be equally as devoted to Rama.
Friend2: That’s a good way of looking at it. They never forgot. They moved on with life, but never in spirit. They continued that devotion until the fateful day when the group returned. There is a reason the celebration of Diwali continues to this day, though the original meaning may not be at the forefront of the festivities.
When terrible news to receive,
Lakshmana too the kingdom to leave.
Since like fish out of water taken,
If Rama’s association forsaken.
But same also if there to stay,
Devotion through consciousness way.
Like with Diwali celebrating,
Lasting faith demonstrating.