“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।।
“Today, if a company does something I strongly disagree with, I will be inclined to look elsewhere. I will do business with someone more aligned with my values. Though the company consists of many individuals, from varying backgrounds, I take their offense personally, as if they are challenging my belief system.
“You could call it a boycott. You could call it cancel culture. You could call it irrational decision-making. Whatever the case, people are known to follow this tendency. It makes perfect sense to me, but I understand the logic in the approach of forgiveness, that of turning the other cheek.
“This is nothing new, I might add. We find grave injustices taking place against innocent people since time immemorial. In the Ramayana, we have the problem in the beginning stages. Shri Rama gets the rug yanked from under Him. Blindsided by the jealousy of His step-mother, Rama suddenly has to leave His job.
“He is essentially fired from the role of king prior to His official start date. He was the most qualified person for the job. His acceptance would well honor the family of the Ikshvakus. The succession protocols would not be violated. Practically everyone in the kingdom agreed with the decision.
“All for naught. The plans changed. I am wondering why people did not decide to boycott the kingdom. You have people in the modern day who steal elections. They are loathed while in office. They behave as tyrants, though there is no respect coming from the people. The people have their own derisive chants, which they serenade the illegitimate office-holder with whenever he appears in public.
“Why did those in Ayodhya decide to stay? Why didn’t they side with Rama and live elsewhere? They should have tried to cancel the decision through a public uprising.”
It should be noted that the affection was so strong that the people decided to follow Rama into the forest. They proposed an astounding idea. The kingdom is only where the people are. If they shifted to the forest, then the kingdom would turn into a desolate place. The forest would then be inhabited, and there would be a new kingdom created, one that would thrive and flourish.
Shri Rama had to create a head-fake of sorts. This was to throw the people off the trail. If they lost track of Rama, they would have no choice but to return. This was not a kind of torture. The kingdom would still run smoothly.
Rama’s younger brother Bharata was equally capable of leading the administration. Nothing else would change, and people shouldn’t make hasty decisions based on sentiment. Rama was indeed wronged, but nothing could change what destiny had decided.
This episode illustrates the vairagya in both Bhagavan and those devoted to Him. The Supreme Lord cast aside interest in the kingdom in the manner that someone tosses away drinking water that remains in a vessel after the thirst has been satisfied.
The people of Ayodhya were prepared to leave the comfort of home to deal with the unknown territory of the forest area. The term was fourteen years. They would accept hardships for the sake of Rama, to offer Him support.
यो मां पश्यति सर्वत्र
सर्वं च मयि पश्यति
तस्याहं न प्रणश्यामि
स च मे न प्रणश्यति
yo māṁ paśyati sarvatra
sarvaṁ ca mayi paśyati
tasyāhaṁ na praṇaśyāmi
sa ca me na praṇaśyati
“For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.30)
The Supreme Lord is so kind that extraordinary lengths in renunciation are not necessary. Simple vows, followed with great determination, with numerical strength and increasing steadiness sufficiently please Him.
“There is no difference between the holy name of the Lord and the Lord Himself. As such, the holy name is as perfect as the Lord Himself in fullness, purity and eternity. The holy name is no material sound vibration, nor has it any material contamination.” (Padma Purana quoted from The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 13)
If a person merely chants the holy names on a regular basis, they honor that great sun of the solar dynasty: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. If they remember Him always, they will come close to Him. He will never be lost to Him, both in this life and the next.
Despite by waves of ocean tossed,
Never to Him lost.
Since in yoga connected,
Thoughts to Him directed.
So even when separation to arrange,
As if nothing to change.
Like with people in Ayodhya staying,
Through fourteen years of praying.