“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।
1. If only I paid more attention to diet and exercise when I was younger
“My health is not good. Don’t worry, I am not about to go on a regimen of prescription drugs. I know those are only a temporary solution, and the side effects are too many to count. But I do wish that I had a better handle on eating and sleeping habits in my youth.
“I could have spent more time exercising, instead of just sitting around watching television. I had sunlight around me, but I rarely took advantage. I ate whatever people offered me, not considering the ingredients.”
2. If only my spouse weren’t violent on occasion
“We could have had years of martial bliss. I was willing to tolerate everything else. Just don’t be violent. Don’t make the home a dangerous place. You can yell and scream from morning until night, but as soon as you start hurling objects at my head, I have to escape.
“It is so sad, because there is shame accompanying a broken marriage. There are consequences to the children. Why wouldn’t they listen to good judgment? Why were they so crazy?”
3. If only my friend heeded warnings about drugs and alcohol
“My friend is in a lot of trouble. They have lost their job, their family, their friends; it is like they are on an island. The sole responsible factor is addiction to certain drugs. They say they can’t help it; it is like a magnetic force pulling them in a certain direction.
“I only wish we could go back in time and remove those substances from the picture entirely. It is much better to have never indulged in the first place. Once you are on a steady diet of this stuff, it is nearly impossible to break free.”
Life is replete with such moments, where fate gets determined by which direction seeds fall when dropped on the razor’s edge. This is the explanation for the origin of the jiva, in how they end up in the material world. They are the tatastha-shakti sprouting from the origin. This is the marginal potency, wherein it is almost by chance the jiva ends up in conditioned life.
The same appearance of randomness is there with events within that condition. If just a single factor changed, I would be in a different place today. I could have remained in that job forever, if only they didn’t force me back into the office during a difficult time.
If only that teacher were different, I could have succeeded in the classroom. Today, I would be earning more money if I was more attentive in school, if I got better grades. I would be so much happier if I had invested in that stock when it was low in price, as everyone around me suggested.
We see these razor-thin margins within the lila of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as well. For instance, Shri Rama only went to live in the forest for fourteen years because of the envy of Kaikeyi. She was a step-mother, the youngest wife to King Dasharatha.
That king loved Rama so much. The child born to Kausalya was the long-awaited heir, but it was Rama’s qualities which were most endearing. Dasharatha would rather give up his life than see any harm befall his most beloved son.
Kaikeyi one time grew envious, and the result of her outrage was harm on other, innocent people. If only she had taken into consideration their feelings. If only she polled the people around her first, seeing the other side and then judging accordingly.
As time is the great destroyer, there is no opportunity for reversal. What is done is done. The situation is what it is. Extended lamentation will not change things. There was no going back home for Rama. His wife, Sita Devi, held onto the insult for many years. She described the incident as Dasharatha giving in to Kaikeyi’s cherished desire.
In the same way, our past deeds, good and bad, pious and impious, have brought us to the present condition. There is no time machine to bring us back. There is no do-over. There is no way to go back in time and give proper intelligence.
Fortunately, it is never too late to correct things. We can turn to spiritual life immediately, today, if we wanted. We could fall back onto the proper side of the blade, through a change in consciousness alone.
बिगरी जनम अनेक की सुधरै अबहीं आजु |
होहि राम को नाम जपु तुलसी तजि कुसमाजु ||
bigarī janama aneka kī sudharai abahīṃ āju |
hohi rāma ko nāma japu tulasī taji kusamāju ||
“The many past births you spoiled can be rectified right now, today, if you start chanting Shri Rama’s holy name and renounce bad association, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 22)
Goswami Tulsidas recommends repeating the holy name of Rama and renouncing bad association. We have that opportunity today. We might not have listened in the past. We might have thought success was entirely in our hands, through making proper decisions and learning from mistakes.
न च सीता त्वया हीना न चाहमपि राघव।
मुहूर्तमपि जीवावो जलान्मत्स्याविनोद्धृतौ।।
na ca sītā tvayā hīnā na cāhamapi rāghava।
muhūrtamapi jīvāvo jalānmatsyāvinoddhṛtau।।
“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)
Bhagavan controls destiny. We have the free will to choose in His direction, and that is the best decision to make in life. It is one that never carries regret or remorse. Even if I lose everything in this world, including a royal kingdom, if I have Rama by my side then I have the most valuable treasure.
Success in this way to measure,
Where holding most valuable treasure.
First with intelligent production,
But destiny causing destruction.
If everything else to lose,
No regret this way to choose.
Since Rama by my side,
Over my fortunes to preside.
Categories: the three