“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, 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. Give me all of your wealth
“You are the eldest son. You have so much due to you, based on the rules of inheritance. We live in a wealthy kingdom, after all. It has been this way for generations. The line of succession is such that the current leader passes down what is in the family to the next person.
“While you are in the forest for fourteen years, I will hold on to what you have. Don’t worry about anything. You have no need for those things, anyway. Let me enjoy a little. It won’t affect you at all.”
2. I will help you prepare
“Brother, you must leave soon. There is no time to waste. Kaikeyi made her demands. Our good father, King Dasharatha, has agreed. Bharata will be the next king, instead. He is the beloved son to that queen. Though Kaikeyi never made distinctions between the four sons of the king before, we know that there is always a stronger bond with someone who was held in your womb.
“The rules are that you must live like a mendicant. People will mistake you for an ascetic. Though you are of the kshatriya order, that is the reason for the punishment. It is like a hero being stripped of his powers. No royal palace to comfort you. No treasury to lean on during times of difficulty.
“I will help you prepare. Everything must be given away, and in a timely manner. I will make sure that the rules don’t get violated. Let me oversee the process, such that you can focus on the many years ahead, living in the wilderness.”
3. Take over the kingdom by force
“You are the mighty and exalted Rama. How can you just sit here and take this? Do not tolerate the injustice. You must rise to the occasion. Kaikeyi’s demands are not befitting the royal order. They do not align with people who know the principles of righteousness.
“Use your bow and arrow to rid the world of this menace. You will be able to singlehandedly defeat any attacking foe. I am confident in your abilities. I will sit on the sidelines, observing everything, awaiting your destined ascension to the throne.”
If your brother happens to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is only understandable to think along these lines. This is how we tend to approach God; to ask Him for things. Shri Krishna provides four general categories that the people fall into.
चतुर्-विधा भजन्ते मां
जनाः सुकृतिनो ऽर्जुन
आर्तो जिज्ञासुर् अर्थार्थी
ज्ञानी च भरतर्षभ
catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ
janāḥ sukṛtino ‘rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī
jñānī ca bharatarṣabha
“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)
Lakshmana is the closest brother in terms of association. He has every right to ask for service from Rama. Another name for Lakshmana is Ramanuja. This means one who follows Rama. Another name for Rama is Lakshmanagraja. This means one who is the leader of Lakshmana.
Yet the response from that younger brother was anything but what one would expect. The mood aligned with what is known as pure devotion. This is the hoped for achievement in the path of self-realization. Let me implement principles, processes, rituals, and regulations so that one day I am actually serving God instead of asking Him for things.
Lakshmana serves to the extent of sacrificing everything. He is ready to mount a coup all by himself. He cannot tolerate the injustice befalling the blameless Rama. Lakshmana is willing to fight against father and brother, if necessary. He gives proper justification, aligning with the principles of shastra, and asks Rama who should be slain first.
A better brother you will not find, and Rama carefully brings down the temperature, avoiding any potential violence. Lakshmana cannot settle for staying in Ayodhya, though. He insists on accompanying Rama, to act as bold protector, to keep a watchful eye at all times.
The comparison is to fish taken out of water. Lakshmana has this view of his relationship with Rama, as does Sita, who is Rama’s beloved wife. Their behavior gives meaning to the theoretical concept of pure devotion. Real bhakti is doing everything for God, even after knowing that He is all-powerful.
As all-powerful known,
In many ways shown.
Demonstrated on battlefield there,
Carrying bow and arrow where.
So justified in wanting to take,
But Lakshmana not a beggar to make.
Rather ready utmost service to give,
So that his brother in comfort to live.
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