THE REUNION OF SITA & RAMA
by Gauranga Darshan Das
A profound lesson from Ramayana that inspires us to revive our eternal relationship with the Lord.
God loves us. It’s true! And we can access it and experience it, if we approach Him in the right spirit. Just as we can watch a desired video by clicking the right link, we can experience the Lord’s love by approaching Him in the right way. In the tradition of bhakti, this right approach is through selfless love.
By love we access love. When we love God, we experience His love in exchange. In fact, God loves us even if we don’t love Him! But if we start loving Him, even in the beginning stages of our love, we can appreciate how much He loves us. The more we recognize His love for us, and the more we appreciate that love, the more we are inspired to love Him unconditionally. When our love for Him is fully blossomed, we experience the supreme, unparalleled bliss of spiritual love in our pristine relationship with God.
Several episodes of our scriptures including Ramayana and Srimad Bhagavatam show us how much the Lord loves the living beings (jivas), and how eager He is to bring us to His loving company, as explained by the Vaisnava Acaryas.
Teaching by Example
Ravana, the king of the demons, had a benediction that he couldn’t be killed by anyone but only by a human being. So, the Supreme Lord Ramacandra descended on this earth in the form of a human being. However, the purpose of His avatara was not just to kill the demons but also to teach and train the human beings by His personal example (martyavataras tv iha martya-siksanam, rakso-vadhayaiva na kevalam vibhoh, SB 5.19.5). All the associates of Lord Rama, including His wife Sitadevi, His brother Laksmana, His devotee Hanuman, His friend Sugriva and others, teach the message of dharma to the entire humanity.
When Ravana kidnapped Mother Sita disguising as a brahmana, Lord Rama wept incessantly. He is the Supreme Lord, the abode of all spiritual bliss. Yet He lamented in separation from his consort Sita devi, and had to undergo many difficulties to reclaim her. By this Lord Rama set a living example for everyone that household life in this material world is filled with many tribulations, and therefore one shouldn’t be unduly attached to materialistic family life. At the same time, in His endeavor to reclaim His chaste wife from the captivity of cruel Ravana, Rama also gave another message for the entire humanity. He instructed all men who follow dharma, that a faithful husband must love and protect his wife in all circumstances. (SB 5.19.5)
Thus Lord Rama’s life teaches great lessons to all of us at multiple levels. Out of His love for the people living in this world, He taught us by His example as an ideal husband, ideal son, ideal brother, ideal king and an ideal human being. By following His teachings and footsteps, we can live sensibly while performing our duties in this world, and reach the Lord’s eternal world.
A Well-known Episode
To fulfill the promise of His father Dasaratha, Lord Rama left His kingdom and went to the forest along with Sitadevi and Laksmna. During Rama’s exile, Ravana had sent a demon named Marica in the form of a golden deer to allure Sitadevi. When the illusory deer appeared before Sita and wandered playfully, Captivated by its lovely movements, Sitadevi got enchanted and requested Lord Rama to bring the deer to her as a gift.
Lord Rama couldn’t deny Sita’s appeal, and went out to capture the illusory deer, keeping Sita in Laksmana’s protection. After chasing it for a while, Rama shot an arrow that hit the deer (Marica) who shouted for help from Laksmana in Rama’s voice. Hearing that sound, anxious Sita sent Laksmana to help Rama, ignoring his well-intended advice not to worry about powerful Rama. In the absence of both Rama and Laksmana Ravana kidnapped Sita and held her captive in Lanka. Sitadevi suffered immensely in the Kingdom of Lanka, and her heart was intensely longing to rejoin Rama.
In search of Sita, Lord Rama happened to make friendship with the Vanaras (monkeys) headed by Sugriva and Hanuman. Rama had sent Hanuman along with so many monkeys to find Sitadevi. Hanuman jumped across the ocean, reached Lanka and found Sitadevi in a garden under an Asoka tree. To win her trust and attract her attention, Hanuman first chanted the holy name of “Rama” and sang about His wonderful pastimes. This made Sita turn to Hanuman, who pacified her by giving all information about Rama, and how He was earnestly waiting to see her soon. Sitadevi also expressed her heart’s longing for reunion with Rama.
Hanuman carried the message of Sitadevi to Lord Rama, who then came to Lanka with His army of monkeys, killed Ravana and reclaimed her. Great Sri Vaisnava saints explain the profound and esoteric meaning of this story as follows.
A Profound Message
Mother Sita who was attracted to the illusory deer in this pastime, represents the living beings who has a tendency to get attracted by the illusory objects for material enjoyment. This attraction keeps one in the material world, which is represented by Lanka. Just as Sita suffered in Lanka in the company of demons, the living beings that get deviated from spiritual life suffer due to materialistic associations.
Just as Lord Rama lamented in separation from Sita, He feels pain when someone gets distracted from spiritual life due to the material allurements (maya). Lord Rama knows that the living beings are best situated in His devotional service and loving protection. The all-merciful Lord, being the supreme well-wisher of all the living beings (suhrdam sarva bhutanam), tries to bring a deviated person back to spiritual life.
Further, when the living beings also sincerely desire to connect with the Lord and get rid of all material associations, the Lord even more enthusiastically tries to help them. Knowing Mother Sita’s heart to rejoin Him, Rama had sent Hanuman to her first. Similarly, the Lord sends His representative, the guru or the spiritual master, to re-establish the connection between the living entity and the Lord. The guru illuminates the consciousness of the living beings by giving information about the Lord, thereby pacifying the sufferings of the living entities. Just as Hanuman chanted the names and pastimes of Rama in front of Sita, the guru instructs the living being by giving the holy names of the Lord and describing His qualities and pastimes.
Just as Rama personally came to Lanka to rescue Sita, the Lord also personally saves the living beings who are serious enough to associate with Him. The Lord is willing to undergo all efforts to reclaim us.
This the unparalleled love of the Lord for all of us. This is the pristine loving relationship we can establish with the Lord through the path of bhakti, under the guidance of a guru.
Cause of Deviation and Way of Reunion
‘Love of God’ is not just some sentimental right-brain thinking or some imagination! It’s the eternal truth. Even if a living entity commits abominable activities and takes birth again in forms like a worm or an insect, the Lord willingly accompanies him staying right within his heart as the Supersoul. In the purest state of consciousness, a living entity also loves the Lord selflessly, but in the conditioned state in the material world, that pure love is covered by false ego (ahankara), ignorance (avidya), material desires (kama), and material activities (karma). This results in material miseries (klesa).
Although a conditioned soul may not have pure love for the Lord, the Lord’s love for the living entity remains available. When the living beings show even little interest in connecting with the Lord, He helps them in all possible ways to reach Him. In fact, the Lord lovingly sends His representatives to help them, and personally reaches out to them to reclaim them to His loving association. Several episodes of Srimad Bhagavatam also describe this principle.
When a five-year-old child named Dhruva desired to worship Lord Visnu, even with some material motives, the Lord had sent His devotee Narada Muni to help him. When a sinful man named Ajamila called out the name of ‘Narayana’ indicating his son, Lord Narayana sent His servants, the Visnudutas to save him from going to hell. When Gajendra, the king of elephants, prayed in difficulty describing the qualities of Lord Hari, Lord Hari at once came to rescue Him form the crocodile. This is the Lord’s love. Even if we show little interest in the path on bhakti, He reaches out to us enthusiastically to shower His grace.
The aim of human life is in understanding the Lord’s love for us and endeavoring to establish our pristine relationship with Him (prema pum-artho mahan).