The following post is one from the Ramacharitmanas series by Hanuman Dass. Every week we move forward in our journey through the Ramayana of Love, as spoken by the great Saint Tulasidas. The Ramacharitmanas has been described by the Acharya Vinoba Bhave as being similar to a cross between the Bible and Shakespeare. The Ramacharitmanas is like an ocean of love and bliss, and the hope is that these posts will provide a sense of the bhava and how one can benefit by way of immersion in its waters. Above all else, the Ramacharitmanas is a journey in love, and as Neem Karoli Baba has said, ‘Love is stronger than electricity’.
Lakshmana desired to explore the glorious city of Mithiala. Such was his service to Shri Rama and his guru Vishvamitra that he dared not say anything. But the all knowing and compassionate Shri Rama sensed his brother’s eagerness to see the city and thus approached the guru to ask his permission. He said, “My dear guru, Lakshamana wishes to see the city. Out of a great desire to serve you, he has not asked, but if you permit I would like to take him.” Vishvamitra smiled and said, “Shri Rama, you are the abode of kindness, the abode of good manners, O upholder of dharma; take your brother to the beautiful city and may the eyes of its citizens be blessed at your sight.”
Bowing and touching the guru’s feet, the two lions of Ayodhya departed to see the city of Mithiala, taking with them their guru’s blessings. Resembling the sun and the moon, they were the delight of the entire world. As the people of Mithiala learned of their arrival, everything ground to a halt as people left what they were doing to see the two great ones. Businesses were closed, women left their household chores, farmers left their cattle and ran to the city. A thousand cupids could not create such beauty as Shri Rama and Lakshmana. The people were enraptured by their indescribable beauty. Who can begin to describe the beauty of he who is beyond even the Gods?
Answer me this! Who would not wish to see such beauty? One of the citizens said, “What living being would not be blessed by seeing such beauty?” Another explained, “These two boys are the sons of Dasaratha, they have been protecting the saints from demons. The one of dark complexion is Shri Rama, son to Kaushalya and the one of fair complexion is Lakshmana, son of Sumitra.”
Another of the citizens called out, “He is the perfect bridegroom to Sita, Janaka’s daughter! I am sure if the King sees him, he will surely call off his promise to wed her to whoever is strong enough to break Shiva’s bow.” Janaka heard his peoples’ wish, however, he could not break his promise. He said, “If fate permits, Shri Rama will be united with Sita.”
Another citizen said, “I hope they surely unite, for only then will our eyes receive the grace of seeing Shri Rama again. It will be impossible for us to see the Lord again. We will need to accumulate lifetimes and lifetimes of religious merit to see the Lord again.” Yet another citizen said, “My dear friends, you have spoken well. The union of Sita and Shri Rama will be good for all living beings, but the bow of Shiva will be difficult to break, and looking at his tender frame, it may not be possible.”
Wherever the two brothers walked people felt nothing but happiness and joy. The people showered flowers upon them and sang beautiful songs, welcoming them to their city. They reached the eastern quarter of the city; the location for the great bow ceremony. The richly adorned quarter was decorated in great splendor. Golden thrones were surrounding the main throne, welcoming princes from far and wide. There was a place for every citizen to come and witness the grand event at which Sita would find her bridegroom.
The children of the city followed the princes and played around them with great joy. They were overwhelmed with love, experiencing thrills of bliss, their hearts were overjoyed seeing the two brothers. Under the spell of the Lord’s bhava, the children were filled with affection. The princes out of loving kindness walked with the children who lovingly showed them many wonderful sights around the city. As always, Shri Rama spoke to the children using gentle and agreeable words explaining that it was time for them to leave.
The fountain of all existence, the one who could destroy a thousand Universes in an instance, meekly submits to the love and devotion of innocent beings. Conquered by the love of the children, the two lions left the city returning to their guru. Touching Vishvamitra’s feet, the two princes bowed their heads out of reverence for their teacher. As the sun began to set, they sat down and listened to the sage’s religious sermons and passed the time in bliss. The lion of sages, Vishvamitra, then went to sleep as the two lions of Ayodhya massaged their teacher’s feet.
He whose lotus feet are sought by every saint in the world, sat peacefully rubbing his preceptor’s feet. After the guru pleaded with the princes to go to sleep, Lakshamana rather than go to sleep, sat massaging his brother’s feet. Such was the love in his heart for Shri Rama.
Such love that exists here can not be explained by words. It is my prayer that you taste it as Tulasidas tasted it, as the citizens of Mithiala tasted it when Shri Rama entered their lives. Lifetimes of good Karma ensured their darshan of the Lord in Mithiala that day, equally we have the same grace. The path of love (bhakti) allows us to bring this unconditional love into our lives to the point where everybody we meet is greeted with the love of meeting God. See all beings as God, this was the message of Neem Karoli Baba.
Darshan comes in many ways…keeping a Shri Murti in our home, by sitting in the presence of a great saint, by witnessing the beauty of nature, by meditating on the names of God, by serving the poor and vulnerable. These all bring us into ‘that’ presence, all ‘these’ when infused with pure love bring us into the sacred reality of unconditional love.