(To be read at the Service of Universal Worship)
Religious Gatheka Number 68
The life of Rama has been read by Hindus for thousands of years and they are never tired of it. That shows that each time they hear the story of Rama they feel exalted and they derive some benefit from the story. As a young prince Rama had the education of spiritual and ethical nature under the teachership of Vashishta, the great spiritual master of that time. So to begin with in his life, there was this great influence; and under the influence of Vashishta, Rama grew to be an ideal young man.
Then there was a ceremony arranged, because there was the demand from every side for Sita, the maiden whose hand was asked by all the different Maharajahs of the time. And Rama went there. The story is that of all the princes, all of the Maharajahs were dressed with jewels and gorgeous dresses except Rama, because he came directly from the school, which was the forest, so he was living a country life. And with all this Rama won in the end. It is Rama who struck the right note in the heart of Sita, and all the Maharajahs who were present were against.
Then for twelve years, as his father had taken a vow that he must go in the forest and live an ascetic life, a life of thought, before he could be entitled to rule the country, he was sent, and there Sita went with Rama. And Ravana, the prince who was most opposed to Rama's success as a bridegroom, followed Rama to the forest, and seized the opportunity which had presented itself. Rama had gone to bring some fruits and water, and there Sita was left alone, and Ravana lifted Sita against her wishes, and flew.
Now then again there is a test, the one test is for a prince to be outside his country, and the other test is to have lost all he had, that was his bride. There it shows balance again, that instead of being distressed, instead of giving up hope, instead of being discouraged he still trusts in her love for him, he still had trust in Providence. Instead of being disappointed he went on searching for her. In the end she was found, a captive in the Garden Palace of Ravana. And then its says he accepted the help of Hanuman, the king of monkeys. That also gives us a great key to the science of biology. It was a monkey. It was a new race just sprung from the animals, a race which was to develop, a most primitive race, showing every trace of an animal.
This again shows that in order to accomplish, or in order to wage war against an earthly king he had to seek an earthly help. He did not invite wise men to come and help him at that time. They would not have helped him, they would have said; have courage: be wise; have patience; sit down; calm yourself; cool yourself; have sense; she is not there; have reason; it is impossible. You are not a prince, you are in a forest, you are alone. The king has taken her away, she would not have gone if she was not willing. Every sort of reasoning clever people would have brought before him. But the primitive people were ready to give their lives in order to serve the spiritual soul. And at the same time it shows how primitive minds can feel the spiritual soul more easily, more readily than the so-called clever. They sympathize with him.
No one else came except the wild people of the forest. That shows the wisdom of Rama also, to control this group of people who were accustomed to go one to the East, another to the South, one creeping, one walking, another jumping; that was their spirit, to control the army of that kind of people, and then to make a success in a war with a king, that again shows Rama's great balance. Then, as he had confidence that Sita was for him, Sita was his bride, he fought, and he got her back to his land. And the most interesting part of this story is that they came in the airplane. The monkeys had to jump back, but Rama had the airplane.
How little we know of time! How many civilizations came, and how many went down, and we do not know about it. How far back can we trace the history of the world? Who can deny that there was once a greater evolution in everything, art, science, mechanics, even still more wonderful in its nature than we see today. There are a thousand examples to be found in the Mahabharata, the ancient tradition, which has been handed down for thousands of years, that Rama came down in vimana, which means in the airplane.
After this ordeal, after this trial, when Rama came back he was able to rule his country in an ideal way. Therefore balance is represented by the life of Rama; and all such things as courage, hope, confidence, trust, all these come from balance. But one might ask, this story does not tell us anything spiritual, it is only his bride, she was lost, Rama went there, he fought with them, he won, he became king. There were little difficulties, it was all smooth. I should say spirituality is not in words, spirituality is in acts. Rama had acted and proved the power of spirituality.
And now we come to the peculiarity of Krishna, it is still more wonderful. You have heard the story of Krishna. He danced among the Gopis, and he teased the milkmaids, and he played in Vindavana as a boy. I should think that that is the most beautiful thing that can exist. He was not a sad, serious, downhearted, depressed young boy. He was life itself. He was born with life, a soul that was to expand through the whole universe, and give, attracted all those who live in the country, even in his childhood.
No doubt there are symbolical stories of Krishna. Perhaps Krishna was not so bad as they think him to be from stories. For instance, Krishna did not steal butter, although it is said in tradition, and the Hindus most respectfully regard it. Butter is the essence of milk, and wisdom is the essence of life; therefore wisdom is likened to butter. His stealing the butter was to churn the experience of life and take out of it its essence. But suppose it was not symbolical, it was perhaps true.
And then again there was the greatest test that life could give any prophet, that was given to Krishna, for the reason that he was the prophet, the Godhead. He was to give the philosophy of love, of kindness, of harmlessness. There he was placed to help a prince whose kingdom was taken away, Arjuna; the most difficult situation for a prophet, to have to stand by someone who must fight, and yet to be destined to give the message of God, – pulled from two sides. And how beautifully he has come out by giving Bhagavad-Gita; from the beginning to the end, you can touch every corner of wisdom. There is kindness there, there is bravery there, there is courage, there is wisdom, there is intellect, there is philosophy, there is mysticism, there is all. In one book he has given the whole philosophy of life, from beginning to end.
The more one reads Bhagavad-Gita, the more one finds the truth of the English phrase: 'to put it in a nutshell;' the whole philosophy is put in the most concise form. One might ask, what had he to do, such as great soul, to stand with a prince? What does it matter whether his kingdom came back or if it did not come back? If we look at it from a psychological point of view, the kingdom is a divine kingdom. And it is lost by every man, by every soul when the soul has come in this manifestation. And in order to find this kingdom he had to learn, not only spiritual things, but the ways of warfare, how to struggle along, and to persevere in the path of truth. And suppose it was true that he gave an example to the world, that you can be the wisest man and at the same time all the capabilities that a king or a judge or a general can have. It is showing perfection from all sides.