“Being under the control of passion and lust, Rama’s father, Maharaja Dasharatha, wanted to fulfill Kaikeyi’s cherished desire, thus he did not go through with Rama’s installation ceremony.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.12)
कामार्तस्तु महातेजाः पिता दशरथस्स्वयम्।।
कैकेय्याः प्रियकामार्थं तं रामं नाभ्यषेचयत्।
kāmārtastu mahātejāḥ pitā daśarathassvayam।।
kaikeyyāḥ priyakāmārthaṃ taṃ rāmaṃ nābhyaṣecayat।
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that the four regulative principles of the bhakti-yoga tradition are essentially already followed from birth. It should not be so difficult to follow in adulthood, but the difference is the introduction of anarthas.
This Sanskrit word literally means something which is not profitable. Anartha is unwanted, but somehow it is there. From experience, I know that overeating will lead to problems, but last night I still decided to indulge in the entire pizza pie for dinner.
I also know that certain illicit materials are not healthy for the eyes to view, having a negative impact on consciousness, yet there is something like a strong itch that needs to be scratched. I shouldn’t indulge in intoxicants, but somehow I can’t help myself.
Growing up, the typical child has no addiction to coffee or alcohol, has no need to gamble, can get by fine without eating meat, and certainly has no desire for sex life. The child will make it through unscathed; there won’t be any damage to the consciousness based on these missing elements which are typical in adult life in the modern day.
A common way to introduce anarthas is through association. My peers in school smoke, so I take up the habit. There are sexual images around me everywhere, even if I close my eyes. Eventually, I give in to the temptation. Everyone else eats meat, so why not me? People tend to have fun watching sporting events if they have a personal stake in the outcome, so I try gambling.
A basic error in judgment can be found in even a sinless person, who showed no inkling towards improper behavior before. We get a vivid lesson from the Ramayana poem of Maharishi Valmiki. This particular work of Sanskrit non-fiction is important since it involves the activities of a human-life avatara of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
God the person, with the abstract turning into detail, with a real-life, historical example, roaming the world and teaching through His actions. Shri Rama is that avatara, and He appears in the house of the Ikshvakus, with King Dasharatha as the current leader, in Ayodhya.
Dasharatha’s youngest wife has her own son, Bharata, but she views Rama as her own. This is the way everyone in Ayodhya feels. People make no distinction between the sons of the king, but they are attached to Rama the most.
While Kaikeyi previously never showed any favoritism towards her own son, through a brief interaction with her servant Manthara, everything changes. This is a classic case of bad association. Manthara essentially poisons Kaikeyi’s mind. The queen turns from favorable to Rama to wanting His banishment from the kingdom.
Kaikeyi ends up manipulating her husband, having the future events change in direction. Instead of Rama succeeding Dasharatha on the throne, it has to be Bharata. Instead of the people living happily with Rama as their leader, they plunge into the depths of despair knowing that He will not return to their vicinity for at least fourteen years.
Rama’s wife held onto that insult. She was not happy about the treatment directed towards her husband. Sita Devi once described the incident as Dasharatha succumbing to lust. The Sanskrit word is kama, and applied to the king it is an insult. Dasharatha was known for his dedication to dharma, which is in the interest of everyone. Kama is in the personal interest, for only a brief moment, and usually yields little value.
The bhakti way of life is essentially giving up the fruits of bad association and returning to the proper way. Despite the wickedness of Kaikeyi, Rama never held a grudge. As the Supreme Lord, He remembers the past. He knew that Kaikeyi was favorable before, and if not for instigation by the servant she never would have reversed course.
This forgiving nature is evident in the very promise of liberation. I have forgotten Rama for so long, for too many lifetimes to count. I have committed one sin after another, even after knowing what I was doing was bad. I sometimes still fall off the path of dharma, but if I should remain conscious of Sita’s husband at the time of quitting the body, everything will be forgiven.
When remembered at time of quitting,
Reward a destination befitting.
Despite for so long to forget,
And with anarthas set.
Rama the truth understanding,
That through bad association landing.
So for my benefit acharya sending,
Who grace from Vaikuntha extending.