Is There A Requirement For An Open Profession Of Faith

[Sita-Rama]“I am faithfully engaged in the service of Rama, who is as immovable as a great mountain, as great a lord as Mahendra [Indra], and who, like a great ocean, is incapable of being agitated.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.33)

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महागिरिमिवाकम्प्यं महेन्द्रसदृशं पतिम्।
महोदधिमिवाक्षोभ्यमहं राममनुव्रता।।

mahāgirimivākampyaṃ mahendrasadṛśaṃ patim।
mahodadhimivākṣobhyamahaṃ rāmamanuvratā।।

“I hate to bring other traditions into the discussion, but I feel it is important because people learn based on their points of reference. If they hear the teachings of Bhagavad-gita, for instance, they will compare against what they have already learned. This is the basis to culture; familiarity based on association.

“Anyway, one thing I have seen from different faiths is this idea of openly proclaiming your allegiance. It is taken to be an initiation of sorts. It allows entry into the club. Sort of like calling up the appliance manufacturer and being asked for the date of purchase. This allows the service provider to see if you are under warranty.

“If the warranty is valid, no problem. They will send a repairperson out. They will likely fix the issue for free. No charge. If the appliance cannot be salvaged, they might even give a brand new replacement. There is nothing to worry about since you are under warranty.

“In the same light, members of the clergy, both formal and informal, are willing to help a person as long as they have openly professed their faith. Have they accepted such and such as their savior? Have they informed others of this acceptance? If not, what are they waiting for? Better to do it sooner rather than later. You don’t want to risk eternal condemnation.

“Is there anything similar in the Vedic tradition? I know there are different schools of philosophy, different deities, and even different goals. We can isolate our discussion to bhakti-yoga, if that makes things easier. Does a person have to openly profess their allegiance to the Supreme Personality of Godhead? Is that what gets the ball rolling, so to speak?”

Of what use is an open declaration? It takes only a few minutes. There might be several witnesses. As a social construct, there could be tremendous value. You gain entry into the club. You receive membership to a vast network of potential support and guidance.

At the same time, a person can slip right back into harmful behavior. Mere moments after the profession of faith, they are hurting other people. They are harming themselves. They behave no differently than the person who refuses to profess their faith, who thinks that there is no central controller to the universe.

Bhagavad-gita deals with this question in several places. For starters, consciousness is the determining factor on the future destination. Consciousness at the time of death configures the next state of being. The state of being carries forward in the way of wind blowing scents from the earth.

शरीरं यद् अवाप्नोति
यच् चाप्य् उत्क्रामतीश्वरः
गृहीत्वैतानि संयाति
वायुर् गन्धान् इवाशयात्

śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti
yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
gṛhītvaitāni saṁyāti
vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt

“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)

[wind]We can find one recommendation for a declaration in Bhagavad-gita. Except it is not the way we think it should go. The Supreme Lord asks the disciple to declare it for everyone else to know, that the devotees never perish. They are always protected.

क्षिप्रं भवति धर्मात्मा
शश्वच्-छान्तिं निगच्छति
कौन्तेय प्रतिजानीहि
न मे भक्तः प्रणश्यति

kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā
śaśvac-chāntiṁ nigacchati
kaunteya pratijānīhi
na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati

“He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.31)

Within the tradition of bhakti-yoga, a person offers everything to God. They follow authority. They try their best to remain on the pious path, following dharma as a trusted standard for behavior and interest. The mentality in this relationship is difficult to put into words, because there is no completely analogous point of reference.

When the devotion increases, when there is elevation in consciousness of the Supreme, a person rises to a level that is greater than faith. It is a kind of vow, but not one that needs to be proven to others. Rather, the vow is so strong that no one will be able to break it.

From the Ramayana, we have the example of Sita Devi, the wife of Shri Rama. In one section of verses, she repeatedly uses the word “anuvrata.” This is to describe her relationship to Rama. We could translate this term to mean “faithfully engaged in service.”

[Sita-Rama]No one will be able to break that vow. Though she is Rama’s wife joined in all dharma, Sita follows out of devotion. It is her choice. No one can interfere in that relationship. Not even her husband. If Rama tries to stop her from following, she refuses to listen.

In Closing:

Connection refusing to lose,
Her savior specifically to choose.

Not that for others impressing,
Or towards society addressing.

A love impossible to break,
That none from her to take.

If even Rama against her to say,
Sita still following that way.

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