“Then I was quickly ready to depart for becoming a forest dweller even ahead of Him, as when lacking His association even residence in heaven is not to my liking.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.27)
साहं तस्याग्रतस्तूर्णं प्रस्थिता वनचारिणी।।
न हि मे तेन हीनाया वासस्स्वर्गेऽपि रोचते।
sāhaṃ tasyāgratastūrṇaṃ prasthitā vanacāriṇī।।
na hi me tena hīnāyā vāsassvarge’pi rocate।
1. My friends after moving
“Do you know of any friendships that are one-sided? I seem to come across a lot of these. It is where one person will do anything for the other friend. On the other side, there is barely any interest. They might not even be aware that the friend is so affectionate, so attached, and so willing to make time to spend together.
“After witnessing such relationships, I naturally took to self-assessment. Do I have any friendships like that? Are there any people who would do anything for me, but I have yet to notice? In truth, I think I am that way with every person. I always want to spend time together. I will always make room for others in my daily schedule.
“Well, the pain stings a little stronger after the recent move. It was for a new job. We said we would keep in touch, but I know how things work. I went through this a lot while growing up, as my parents moved several times. This meant that I had to keep changing schools, sitting in classrooms with total strangers.”
2. My season tickets
“I simply cannot afford it. The recent changes at work force austerity at home. I have to look at my finances more seriously. I have to keep a budget. Nothing exorbitant. Only the bare necessities; at least for now.
“This means that I cannot go to those sporting events. I was a loyal fan. I still am, but I will have to support from home, through the television. It was such a fun experience. I knew the people seated around me. It was relaxing, if you can believe that.”
3. My playing career
“I started off with a lot of potential. People said I could go down as one of the greatest, if I applied myself. I didn’t know what that meant, at first. It took me several years to find my stride. Then I completely dominated. I was so good that I could not believe it myself.
“The high wouldn’t last forever. People predicted that as soon as I fell from the top, I would quit. I would retire and find something else to do. That didn’t happen. I stayed in the field, though not as good as I used to be.
“I continued to play for so many years that I thought it would never end. Sadly, time eventually took its toll. My body is breaking down. I must retire. I am certainly going kicking and screaming. This one hurts, in more ways than one.”
4. My beloved car
“That car was everything to me. It helped me out a ton within social situations. It was a status symbol. It was a work of art. It was a thing of beauty. People looked at me differently because I drove it. What great times.
“Sadly, I have to give it up. I decided to get out of my father’s shadow. I started my own company instead of working for him. It is a huge risk to take, but I need to have my own identity, for once. The problem is that the new business is struggling. I have to find ways to raise capital, and selling the car translates to an immediate infusion of cash.”
5. My entire kingdom
This was the case with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His avatara of Shri Rama. This was not an anticipated moment. It was not like a countdown timer had been set long ago, giving the title holder an idea of when their ownership would end.
It was just the opposite. Mere moments prior, there was the surprise announcement that Rama would inherit the throne. The father, King Dasharatha, made the decision after taking the consensus of his advisors. The entire town was thrilled. They knew Rama deserved to be king.
Then, just like that, the rug got pulled from underneath. Not only would the kingdom not go to Rama, but He had to leave the area immediately. He could not take valuables with Him. He had to pretend as if He were an ascetic, going on a tour of austerity and penance, tapasya.
It is easier to be renounced in theory. A person contemplates what they might have to give up, if faced with the situation, but Rama was in reality. We measure the degree to which a person has vairagya based on what they have to set aside.
Rama can set aside an entire kingdom at a moment’s notice. This means that no one is more renounced. This is part of the understanding of God as Bhagavan. The person who possesses beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom, and renunciation to the fullest degree and simultaneously is God the person. Because of these attributes, He is known as Bhagavan.
शुश्रूषमाणा ते नित्यं नियता ब्रह्मचारिणी।
सह रंस्ये त्वया वीर वनेषु मधुगन्धिषु।।
śuśrūṣamāṇā te nityaṃ niyatā brahmacāriṇī।
saha raṃsye tvayā vīra vaneṣu madhugandhiṣu।।
“Always engaged in serving you, keeping my senses under control and observing the vow of brahmachari, I shall be with you, O great hero, in the forest fragrant with honey.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 27.13)
Even Rama’s closest companions are renounced to the same level. Sita Devi later described that she was one step ahead of her husband. As Rama was headed to the forest, so Sita prepared to be a vanacharini. She would accept the vow of brahmacharya. She would remain in the closest proximity to her attractive and beautiful husband, and there would be no conjugal affairs. This vow would last fourteen years.
With the most to lose,
In that direction to choose.
That kingdom no more,
Austerity in store.
Rama ready to renounce,
After exile to pronounce.
Sita there by His side,
As vanacharini to reside.
Categories: the five