“O You of great intellect, not even the demigods can fathom the level of Your intelligence. Due to bereavement Your wisdom is currently in a dormant state, and I am here to rouse it.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.19)
बुद्धिश्च ते महाप्राज्ञ देवैरपि दुरन्वया।
शोकेनाभिप्रसुप्तं ते ज्ञानं सम्बोधयाम्यहम्।।
buddhiśca te mahāprājña devairapi duranvayā।
śokenābhiprasuptaṃ te jñānaṃ sambodhayāmyaham।।
“How should we handle the issue of bereavement? In the case of pain over loss, whether sudden or long expected. It could be a loved one, a friend, a family member, a mentor, or in the worst case, a dependent, such as a child.
“How is a person expected to remain cool, calm, and collected in the face of such adversity? The difficulty is too much to tolerate. We have the example of Shri Rama in poor spirits after learning of His wife’s departure.
“Sita Devi went suddenly missing while the couple was living in the forest area. They were serving out an exile term of fourteen years. The wicked leader of Lanka, the ten-headed Rakshasa named Ravana, created a ruse to take Sita away in secret, by force.
“Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana directly remarks that Rama is the smartest person in the three worlds, that not even the demigods can compare to Him in intellect. The only reason that intelligence is somewhat suppressed is because of bereavement.
“I understand that Shri Rama is an avatara of Bhagavan and that such actions serve many purposes, including instruction. If a wise person loses their cool, forgets the long-term objectives, when under duress, what chance do mere mortals have? Is not the cause of perfection of consciousness, therefore, a futile one?”
There is a second part to Lakshmana’s remark. He is the loyal and supportive younger brother. Another name for Lakshmana is Ramanuja. This means that he is a younger brother of Rama. The name has a second meaning of “follower to Rama.” Bharata and Shatrughna can also be addressed as Ramanuja.
Correspondingly, Rama is known as Lakshmanagraja. He is the elder brother and the one setting the example. Within Vedic culture the eldest brother has an almost equal status with the father. Even in the case of closeness in friendship, such as with Lakshmana and Rama, the two distinct roles still apply.
Lakshmana is there to help. He will awaken the intelligence that is temporarily in a dormant state. He will remind Rama of the principles of dharma. The very same principles taught both explicitly and through exemplary acts in Rama’s amazing lifetime – Lakshmana will highlight.
यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जनः ।
स यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते ॥
yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas
tat tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute
lokas tad anuvartate
“Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.21)
Ramanuja is also the spiritual master. They serve God the person. They are fearless in their defense of His interests. They never deviate from the path. They are always awake in terms of spiritual realization. This was symbolized by Lakshmana’s sacrifice of sleep during the exile period. He would remain awake at night while His brother and wife took rest.
The path to perfection in consciousness is not easy. There will be many moments of despair. Just when the leader of Ayodhya seems within grasp, the next moment we put His interests aside. We deal with temporary issues instead, and enough of them pile up that they consume our thoughts from morning until night.
As the same Lakshmana was there to help Rama, so the spiritual master reminds us of what we have previously been taught. He reawakens the dormant love for God that is within us. He shows us the way back to our original position, the eternal home.
Steady association is necessary. Repeat instruction might be required. Question and answer. Inquiry and explanation. Doubt and resolution. The science of self-realization is a living, breathing tradition. To step in that path is to follow an active engagement.
बहु-शाखा ह्य् अनन्ताश् च
bahu-śākhā hy anantāś ca
“Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.41)
It is not blind faith. Success does not rely on a hope and a prayer. There are tests. There are moments of uncertainty, but with the help of Lakshmana and those following in his line, representing the interests of Sita’s husband, there is every chance of correcting the mistakes.
Many mistakes to correct,
Not smooth ride to expect.
Because even if firmly set,
Many distractions to get.
Lakshmana there to remind,
Relentless devotion to find.
Such that even his brother raising,
Glorious path of guru blazing.