“O Sita, those munis, who have taken to strict vows, living aggrieved in Dandaka-aranya have personally approached Me, who am a protector of the surrendered, and sought refuge.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 10.4)
ते चार्ता दण्डकारण्ये मुनयस्संशितव्रताः।
मां सीते स्वयमागम्य शरण्याश्शरणं गताः।।
te cārtā daṇḍakāraṇye munayassaṃśitavratāḥ।
māṃ sīte svayamāgamya śaraṇyāśśaraṇaṃ gatāḥ।।
1. Running for office
“Did you watch that debate last night? That one candidate seems really bad. I don’t follow the news that much, but I read on some website about how horrible the guy is. Was it an objective article? I have no idea. Why do you ask?
“But yeah, this candidate wants to actually let people out of their house, without suffocating. He wants to let people choose for themselves what medical treatment they take or don’t take. He is way too extreme. We have to stop him from winning at all costs.”
2. Opening a big-box retail store
“This company follows the same model. In every town they enter, they promise to help the community. They say that nothing will change. They say that conditions will improve, that there will be a boost to employment.
“I know the real story. They will cause the smaller shops to close down. Businesses that have been here for decades will be finished. That would have a devastating impact on the local area. We have to stop the sale at all costs.”
3. Changing the school curriculum
“These nut-jobs have been running for school boards across the country. They keep bringing up conspiracy theories about a hidden agenda within the books. They say that children are being exposed to adult material at a young age, that they are being secretly groomed into alternative lifestyles.
“We can’t return to the days of witch-trials and book burnings. We can’t have values imposed on our children. We have to keep society moving in the right direction, progressing. These whackos have to be stopped, by any means necessary.”
4. Assuming the acharya role of a prestigious institution
“These people look religious on the surface, but they are only about money and power. They could not wait to assume the role of acharya. Stealing it for a single individual would be too obvious. They decided to distribute the title amongst their tiny group.
“Everyone in the institution must now obey. Otherwise, they will be kicked to the curb. All those years of hard work and sacrifice down the drain. They must compromise their principles and accept these frauds as leaders. There is no other choice. If you ask me, something needs to be done. These imposters need to be dealt with, no matter what.”
5. Preparing to invade a sovereign land
“I have seen the intelligence reports. We have access to classified information. These people are planning to invade another country. They have their stockpiles of weapons. They are ready to inundate the area with biological weapons. Therefore, we must act. We must strike preemptively. War is not what we want, but it is what we need.”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that one of the qualities of a sadhu is ajata-shatravah. This means that they are without enemies. The literal translation refers to someone whose enemies have not taken birth.
तितिक्षव: कारुणिका: सुहृद: सर्वदेहिनाम् ।
अजातशत्रव: शान्ता: साधव: साधुभूषणा: ॥
“The symptoms of a sadhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.25.21)
This is an amazing quality, if we think about it. There is no difficulty in finding fault with others. We see someone on television and critique their clothes, their mannerisms, the words they use, and even the length of their hair. We see someone walking on the street and find fault with the length of their stride.
For the sadhu, the description applies from the perspective going outward. From within to the external. The sadhu does not consider any person to be their enemy. How is this even possible? We make friends with people who are favorable to us. Enemies naturally align in the other direction. We don’t like people who are against us.
“Demons think of everyone as a friend or enemy, but Vaishnavas say that since everyone is a servant of the Lord, everyone is on the same platform. Therefore a Vaishnava treats other living entities neither as friends nor as enemies, but instead tries to spread Krishna consciousness, teaching everyone that we are all one as servants of the Supreme Lord but are uselessly wasting our valuable lives by creating nations, communities and other groups of friends and enemies.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.12 Purport)
The ideal example in this regard is Prahlada Maharaja, the five-year old son of a king described in Vedic texts like Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana. This example is through both explicit instruction and behavior. That is to say, Prahlada did not consider anyone to be his enemy.
There were many obvious candidates. His father was foremost among them. The father wanted to kill Prahlada. The father tried to kill his own son. The father wanted to eliminate the influence of the child from the world.
Prahlada faced this antagonism without fear. He was on the receiving end of targeted attacks. He did not hold anything against the father. He maintained his position as sadhu, though none of the teachers had instructed him to behave that way.
The sadhu who lives up to such virtues might still find enemies. Though they don’t consider anyone else a threat, the same courtesy is not applied from the other side. We have the example of the sages living in the forest of Dandaka. We learn of their plight from the Ramayana of Valmiki.
The sages were being eaten away. Night-rangers would attack. These were intentional and targeted strikes. These were not merely animals of the wilderness getting lost and then raising violence due to fear of the unknown.
The nishacharas wanted to kill the sages. They wanted to disrupt religious sacrifice, yajna. They wanted to eliminate the influence of the most innocent of the adult population. It was really unfair. The sages had no stockpile of arms to use as defense. They were not even expecting attack in such remote areas.
विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम्
सम्भवामि युगे युगे
vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām
sambhavāmi yuge yuge
“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.8)
As described in Bhagavad-gita, sometimes the Supreme Personality of Godhead descends personally to the mortal realm. He does this to protect the sadhus. He protects by sometimes having to annihilate the miscreants.
The incarnation of Shri Rama arrived to put an end to the attacks in Dandaka-aranya. While Rama’s wife was concerned that her husband was inviting unnecessary hostilities by carrying weapons, Rama explained that these sages had no other recourse. Rama was their only hope.
The tradition continues. The ajata-shatravah sadhus of the present day face vilification, mockery, and closure of their established institutions of spiritual higher learning. The population in general faces constant harassment from an unqualified leadership class.
The same Rama is here to protect. He descends in Kali-yuga through the holy name. Those who hold on to that name, who stay connected, who know that Rama’s arrows always hit their mark, understand that their life of devotion will never perish, no matter how much the villains may try.
Sages not bothering a soul,
Yajna their interest sole.
Enemies could never see,
Since as sadhus to be.
But night-rangers on patrol,
The lives of innocent stole.
Rama with weapons to that place,
For imminent danger to erase.
Categories: the five