“I shall happily reside in the forest, considering it to be just like my paternal home, paying no attention to the three worlds and only thinking of my husband’s vow.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 27.12)
सुखं वने निवत्स्यामि यथैव भवने पितुः
अचिन्तयन्ती त्रीन्लोकांश्च्चिन्तयन्ती पतिव्रतम्।।
sukhaṃ vane nivatsyāmi yathaiva bhavane pituḥ
acintayantī trīnlokāṃśccintayantī pativratam।।
“How is a sannyasi able to do what they do? Especially the travelling kind – I believe the Sanskrit term is parivrajaka. This person must travel from place to place. There was a program on television when I was a kid. I think it was called the Incredible Hulk. The main character could not control his emotions, and whenever he became too angry he turned into this powerful, green monster.
“As soon as the affair was over, his cover was blown. The people of the area discovered his problem. This meant that he had to travel to a new destination. This is sort of how every episode ended. It was incredibly sad to me, that this person could not maintain a steady place of residence.
“Now just imagine the life of a travelling preacher, wherein they intentionally choose the vagabond way. Are they not sad at night? Do they not wish to remain in one place and call it home? Do not they miss the place from which they are leaving?”
There is the saying, “Home is where the heart is.” We typically take this to mean that no matter to which places we travel, our heart remains in our original home. Another way to understand, based on the spiritual awakening, is that both the individual soul and the Supreme Soul rest within the heart.
The individual’s real home is in the heart, next to God. The physical location of the temporary body does not matter much. As Goswami Tulsidas explains, the individual soul can take birth in a variety of places and circumstances. This has already occurred in the past and it will continue in the future.
जल थल नभ गति अमित अति अग जग जीव अनेक |
तुलसी तो से दीन कहँ राम नाम गति एक ||
jala thala nabha gati amita ati aga jaga jīva aneka |
tulasī to se dīna kaham̐ rāma nāma gati eka ||
“There are an infinite number of living beings, both moving and nonmoving, who have many different abodes, with some residing on the earth, some in the sky, and some in the water. But O helpless Tulsi, for you Shri Rama’s holy name is your only home.” (Dohavali, 37)
Tulsidas says that his real home is the holy name of the Supreme Lord Rama. This name can be repeated anywhere. That eldest son of King Dasharatha can be remembered at any time and at any place. In this way, through the facility of consciousness we can always be at home.
We can take inspiration from Sita Devi. She is Rama’s beloved wife during the earthly lila, and for eternity she is the goddess of fortune in Vaikuntha, happily serving her husband Narayana. Sita Devi lives in at least five locations during her time on earth.
She grows up in the royal kingdom of Videha, under the care of her father, King Janaka. She later marries into royalty and lives with Rama in Ayodhya. Then she is unceremoniously kicked out of the kingdom. She takes Rama’s punishment as her own. She insists on accompanying her husband.
Sita explains that life within the forest will be as comforting as her parent’s home. This is because Rama will be by her side. Wherever they decide to rest for the night, that will be home. She will not be disturbed by the lack of creature comforts. She will always remain true to her vow to her husband, pati-vratam.
Due to the ways of the asuras and Rakshasas, Sita later has to spend time in the city of Lanka. Held against her will, there is sadness day and night, but she remains connected to Rama through consciousness.
There is eventually a triumphant return to Ayodhya for Sita and Rama, followed by the final stages of life spent in Valmiki’s ashrama, where Janaka’s daughter is again on her own, raising two children. Despite the changing conditions, the connection to God is the same.
The sannyasi of firm conviction is able to travel in such a way, delivering the fallen souls. What other hope do we have, as we can’t even notice obvious evil, in front of our face in the form of forced experimental medical treatment and suffocation of children in public? We get alarmed at the spread of disease, as if that has never occurred before, and we think we can indefinitely prolong life through avoiding association altogether.
परं ब्रह्म परं धाम पवित्रं परमं भवान् ।
पुरुषं शाश्वतं दिव्यमादिदेवमजं विभुम् ॥
paraṃ brahma paraṃ dhāma pavitraṃ paramaṃ bhavān ।
puruṣaṃ śāśvataṃ divyamādidevamajaṃ vibhum ॥
“Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty.” (Bhagavad-gita, 10.12)
Today more than ever we need the guiding wisdom of Bhagavad-gita and the disciplic succession. All glories to the person travelling the three worlds and sharing the glories of God the person, who will always remain our true and original home, param dhama.
Whether in forest or all alone,
The same is our eternal home.
Feeling as if already there,
Through consciousness aware.
Like Sita true to the vow,
Surviving forest exile how.
Or later when abandoned the same,
Holding dear the holy name.