The following is an excerpt from Pinnacle of Devotion, 2nd edition, by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja
anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 1.4)
May that Lord, who is known as the son of Śrīmatī Śacīdevī, be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love.
This verse is from the maṅgalācaraṇa of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Vidagdha-mādhava. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu inspired Rūpa Gosvāmī in Prayāga to fulfil His desire to distribute unnatojjvala parakīya-bhāva, and along with this, to distribute knowledge to the jīvas about what He tasted. This bhāva is unparalleled even in Goloka Vṛndāvana, what to speak of this world. This prema is the eternal religion (nitya-dharma) of all fortunate living entities, not just those in human bodies.
If a husband who has affection for his wife sees that his wife has affection for another man, he will be upset. Similarly, if the wife knows that her husband internally loves someone else, she will be upset. Either way, their entire life together will be disturbed. We see the relationship of husband and wife, lover and beloved, not only in humans, but in creatures, creepers, and trees. Without this loving relationship, one cannot live. Trees and creepers also have this affection, but they cannot express it. Humans can express it to a certain extent.
The perverted reflection of prema (pure spiritual love) is the desire to satisfy the body, and this is called kāma (lust). Because lust is not pure, it causes pain, suffering, and problems. In this world it is seen that a man cannot fully satisfy a woman and vice versa. After some time he or she will become dissatisfied and may look for someone else.
We are refugees here in this material world. Because of lust we are imprisoned here, seeking satisfaction in a wife, husband, children, mother, father, friends, and worldly objects, and Kṛṣṇa arranges for us to taste the result of such material attachment. Satisfaction is only possible when one has affection for Kṛṣṇa; otherwise, no one can be satisfied.
When Lord Rāma and His own Śrīmatī Sītā-devī came to this world, they both played a role and taught us worldly jīvas the result of lust. They taught us that lust is a very bad thing.
When Rāma, Sītā, and Lakṣmaṇa were in the jungle, the demon Mārīca came in the form of a golden deer. Sītā saw the deer and told Rāma, “I want this deer. You can catch it alive, or You can shoot it and bring his skin.”
Lakṣmaṇa warned Rāma not to follow the deer. “He is actually a demon, not a deer,” Lakṣmaṇa told Rāma. “That demon will cause You many problems. Don’t go; it is better to disobey Your wife.”
Although Rāma is the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself and is therefore not controlled by māyā. He showed the conditioned jīvas what happens when a man comes under the control of a woman’s material desires. The result is problems. Rāma replied to Lakṣmaṇa, “I must carry out the order of My wife, even if the deer is a demon.”
Rāma went after the deer, and as a result He had to leave Sītā twice. Finally He had to leave her ‘forever,’ due to others doubting her purity after she had spent some days with Rāvaṇa. She was pure, but because others doubted her chastity, Rāma felt He needed to consider the mood of those citizens and abandon her. He sent her into the forest and then lamented deeply.
Rāma lived in a royal palace and Sītā lived in the forest in the āśrama of Vālmīki, sleeping on a grass mat and cutting wood for cooking. Rāma repented, “I have sent Sītā to the jungle, so I will also live as a renunciate and not taste any material comforts.” He stayed alone in His palace, sleeping on a mat on the floor. Sītā slept easily, but Rāma could not. He always wept, “O Sītā , O Sītā , O Sītā! I made a mistake by trying to satisfy My subjects.” Sītā was consoled by Vālmīki, but there was no one to console Rāma, no one to wipe away His tears. He wept constantly, and one who knows the heart of Rāma will also weep bitterly.
Once, Rāma performed a rājasūya-yajña (sacrifice) on the bank of the river Gomatī near Naimiṣāraṇya. All of His subjects, including His mothers, brothers, monkeys (Hanumān and Sugrīva), and Vibhīṣaṇa assembled there. The yajña was conducted from early morning to ten o’clock, after which everyone assembled to hear narrations from the Purāṇas.
One day, the twin sons of Rāma and Sītā, Lava and Kuśa, arrived in that assembly. They were about nine years old and, closely resembling Rāma Himself, they were very beautiful. No one knew who they were or from where they had come. Playing on vīṇās they began to recite the Rāmāyaṇa, which they had heard in the āśrama of Vālmīki. They sang in a melodious tune, as with a vīṇā, wherein high sounds trembled down to low ones in a rāga suitable for spiritual lamentation (karuṇa-rasa). Their singing was so sweet that all those present were stunned in silence. They sang about the pastime in which Sītā, Rāma, and Lakṣmaṇa, in the dress of renunciates, left Ayodhyā for the forest under the order of Kaikeyī – at which time King Daśaratha, lamented, “Alas, Rāma! Alas, Rāma!” and immediately left the world. As Lava and Kuśa sang, Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa, Bharata, Kaikeyī, Hanumān, Sugrīva, and the entire audience were captivated and wept bitterly. They felt that if the pastime was taking place right before their eyes.
As the day drew to a close, Rāma sent Lakṣmaṇa to give Lava and Kuśa a donation of a pot of gold coins, fine silken cloth, and golden ornaments. Lakṣmaṇa descended from His throne and asked them, “My dear boys, please tell Me your father’s name and where you are from. Lord Rāma wants to know your identity.”
The boys were silent at first and then said, “You know the Vedas. You are a learned person, so You must know that it is not proper etiquette to inquire from a brahmacārī or sannyāsī about his father and mother, wife, daughters, or sons. You don’t know this etiquette? We are two brahmacārīs. You may therefore inquire about the name of our Gurudeva or the whereabouts of our āśrama, or request us to speak hari-kathā. We are disciples of Vālmīki. We have come from his āśrama and we have learned these songs from him.”
Lakṣmaṇa became speechless, ashamed that He had asked this question. He thought, “Yes, what they are saying is correct. One should not say to a brahmacārī or sannyāsī, ‘Oh, Mahārāja, you are still married. Your wife and sons are still there.’” He then requested them, “Please accept this golden pot containing jewels and golden ornaments.”
The boys replied, “We are simple brahmacārīs. What use do we have for such opulent gifts? We eat fruit, and without the use of a vessel we drink water from our hands. Please return these gifts to Rāma, who is a king and has a use for them.”
Lava and Kuśa then returned to their mother, who had been anxiously waiting for them. Taking the boys in her arms, one in her left arm, the other in her right, she caressed them and asked, “O sons, why have you come home so late today?”
“Today, Mother, we went far away to the assembly of a king.” The boys did not know the king’s name. “There we sang the pastimes of Sītā and Rāma. We don’t know why, but everyone present was weeping – the king Himself, His brother, and even the monkeys. And while there, we saw something very unusual. There was a golden statue that looked exactly like you, with the same face and same beauty; but whereas you speak, this statue did not.”
Sītā began to weep bitterly. The boys asked her, “Mother, why are you weeping?” but she could not explain to them Rāma’s banishment of Her.
The next day, Rāma said to Vālmīki, “I know that Sītā is staying in your āśrama. Please bring her to Ayodhyā immediately. I cannot live without her.”
The following day, Sītā arrived in Ayodhyā with Lava and Kuśa holding her hands. Looking down at the ground as she walked, she followed Vālmīki and silently entered Rāma’s kingdom, wondering what was going to happen. Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa, Hanumān, Kauśalyā, and others eagerly gazed at the sight of Sītā returning to Ayodhyā. The Lord’s associates now assumed that the two boys must be the sons of Rāma. Because they were so beautiful, they could not possibly be the sons of any other.
Rāma approached Sītā and said, “Please show Me proof that you are pure, that you have never been touched by Rāvaṇa.”
Sītā responded in a mild voice with honour for Rāma, “Do You not accept the proof of my purity from Daśaratha Mahārāja and Agnideva? I will now give you proof.” She then prayed, “O Pṛthivī (the personified Earth planet), you are my mother. If I am pure, if I have never known anyone except Rāma, if my heart has never touched anyone else, even for a moment, then please open and take me in your lap.” She said this three times.
Then at once, with a great sound, the Earth divided in two and a beautiful golden chariot appeared. Pṛthivī-devī took Sītā on her lap and the Earth closed.
Rāma immediately jumped up, crying, “O Sītā ! Sītā ! Sītā ! You have left Me! O Mother-in-law, Pṛthivī-devī, return My Sītā or I will shoot you and break you into pieces. I want to see Sītā at once!”
Vālmīki approached Rāma and said, “Rāma, do not be so distressed. Go to Sītā. She is waiting for You in Your abode.”
In this way Rāma is showing the world the result of lust: “Do not do as I have done, otherwise there will be so many problems.”
In order to be happy, try to attain pure love for Kṛṣṇa. Material love is an endeavour to gratify selfish desires, whereas pure kṛṣṇa-prema is the opposite, free from the slightest taint of any selfishness.
In order to reveal to the jīvas their eternal natural dharma, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu descended to this world. This world is like a school. Let us not waste this good opportunity to practice bhakti-yoga in the association of pure devotees, who are free from politics, hypocrisy, duplicity, and diplomacy. It is essential to understand that vraja-prema is our eternal dharma, and in order to be happy forever, we will have to achieve it. We must not allow lust to create a disturbance in our life. If one is married, that is alright; there is no harm in that as long as the husband treats his wife as one who is dear to Kṛṣṇa, serving her with love and affection but reserving his real inner affection for Kṛṣṇa.
This world is a training centre We must not become entangled in it, otherwise we will have endless problems. One may perform one’s duty, maintaining one’s family members, for wealth is also not detrimental if it is utilized properly. Our family is not meant to fulfil our lust. While serving our family we must practice bhakti, and thus make this world like Vaikuṇṭha, the Lord’s spiritual abode.
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