Mathura, April 13, 2000
Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Janaka Maharaja had given the definition of bhakti to Lord Rama’s brother, Bharata. "Anyabhilasita-sunyam, jnana-karmady-anavrtam, anukulyana krsnanu-silanam bhaktir uttama. One who has no other desire than to please Krsna, and who is not influenced by the process of jnana-marga (cultivation of knowledge) karma, and so on, is situated in pure bhakti.” The king told him that nothing can control prema (pure love of God); it has its own law. One who has prema will always consider the desires of his object of love. He has no personal interest. He will always think, "How will my beloved be pleased?" Our real purpose is to please our worshipful deity, God and Guru; not to please ourselves."
After Ravana was killed, Sita devi had to undergo the agni pariksa, fire test. Of course, Maya-Sita entered the fire, and the real Sita devi remained unharmed – proving that she was completely pure and chaste. Rama then gave the kingdom of Ravana to Vivisana, Ravana's brother, and after that he took Sita devi and all their associates to Ayodhya on a mystic airplane. There were millions and billions of associates, but this airplane was able to expand so that they could all fit on it.
On their journey, Rama pointed out to Sita all the places where they had enjoyed pastimes together, or where He and Laksmana had killed various demons. For example, Rama would say, "Oh look, here is where we built the bridge to Lanka. Do you remember?" When they reached Kishkinda, where all of Rama's monkey associates lived, they stopped. Sita devi then invited all the wives of the monkeys to come aboard the airplane, as they were also very interested to see Rama's coronation
The party stayed one night and then went to Citrakut. Hanuman took the form of a brahmana and went to the place where Bharata was staying in Nandigram. Bharata was living the life of a renunciate, wearing simple cloth, with matted hair and living on fruits and roots; and all of his ministers lived in the same way. In the guise of a brahmana, Hanuman approached Bharata and said, "Oh Bharata Maharaja, Rama has come. Prepare to welcome him!" Upon hearing that his dear brother had finally returned, he was overjoyed and fainted. When he came to consciousness he said, "I want to give you many gifts. So please accept 18,000 cows, as many beautiful women as you desire, horses and other wealth. Still I cannot give you anything equal in value to the news you have given me." Hanuman then returned to his original form, and Bharata said, "Oh, you are Hanuman!"
After Rama’s abhiseka ceremony, he wanted to give many gifts to everyone. Sita devi thought of a very nice gift to give Hanuman, so she gave him her most beautiful pearl necklace. Hanuman took it, examined it and broke it, and the pearls scattered all over the floor. Sita devi was surprised and asked, "What are you doing?" Hanuman replied, "Oh, I was just seeing if 'Rama' is written anywhere here." "But don't you know Rama is in your heart?" she said. Then Hanuman tore open his chest. In this way, Rama’s associates teach us that whatever is given to others should be in connection with Krsna.
Lord Rama and Sita devi stayed together for many years, and everyone was very happy within their kingdom. Some people, however, criticized Rama for accepting Sita back after she had been in the palace of Ravana. According to Vedic principles, it is unacceptable to accept one's wife after her being away for one night – what to speak of one year. One evening, the wife of a washer-man came home late. Her husband immediately told her that she could not enter the house. He threw her out saying, "I am not like Rama, who accepted his wife back after she'd been with another man."
This news spread and the story got back to Rama. He was most disturbed, and realized that he had to do something. How could he rule a kingdom in which some of the people did not have faith in him? He called a meeting, asking all his brothers to come; but none of them could give him any advice. He himself then realized what to do. He remembered that Sita had desired to visit all the sages in the forest and shower them with gifts. He asked Laksmana to take her to the asrama of those sages, deliver his sorrowful message to her, and then leave her in the forest. Laksmana was devastated that he was called upon to do this, but he could not say anything, as he was Rama's younger brother. He therefore had to accept that responsibility.
Sumanta was Laksmana's chariot driver, and moreover a very great minister of Rama. Laksmana told everything about Rama's order to Sumanta and said, "My life is full of miseries. Now, today is the biggest misery of my life!" They passed Prayag and went across a river. "Valmiki's asrama is here," Laksmana told Sita. Then, with a heavy heart he told her, "Everyone is accusing Rama of accepting an unchaste wife. Many people don't have full faith in him now; so how is it possible for him to rule the kingdom and guide the citizens properly?"
When Sita devi heard this she fainted, and when she revived she said, "I don't want to create any difficulties for him. I do not want him to be disturbed by the public. Please pay my obeisances to all. Laksmana, I want to pray at your lotus feet, as I have offended you twice. The first night in Ayodhya, after our marriage ceremony, I stopped you from massaging Rama's lotus feet. Though this had been your cherished duty for many years, I took this away from you. When you asked Rama about this, he could not answer. Then we asked the great sage Vasistha and he said, 'The duties now have to be divided. So Laksmana, all the duties outside of the house should be taken by you. Sita devi should now perform all the duties inside of the house.' In this way it was decided.
"Secondly, I was once allured by a deer in the forest when we were in exile. I heard Marici call out, 'Alas, Laksmana!' Assuming it was Rama's voice, I told you to go immediately to help Him. You said, 'No Sita, it is an illusion created by a demon.' I insisted and told you, 'I know. You are a spy of Bharata, and you have lusty feelings for me. That is why you don't want to save your brother!' These words pierced your heart. You replied that you always saw me as your mother and had never even seen my face; you had only seen my feet. You could not bear these harsh words. Then, when you went to see Rama, he chastised you saying, 'Why did you take heed of the words of that woman?' Then Ravana came here and begged, 'biksana dehi' three times. When I did not want to come outside of your circle of protection he threatened me, 'I curse you that your husband will die if you do not give anything to me here!' So please forgive me for these offenses."
After leaving Sita devi in the forest Laksmana lamented, "Oh, alas! I will surely give up my life!" Sumanta tried to pacify him, and told him the truth of the matter. "Once I was with Dasaratha Maharaja, and at that time two sages, Vasistha Rsi and Durvasa Muni, came to visit him. Maharaja Dasaratha served them very nicely and then asked them to kindly tell him about the future of his four children. Vasistha Rsi remained silent and Durvasa Muni responded by saying, ‘Oh, you have four sons. Very good." Dasaratha Maharaja said, "Yes, first tell me about Rama's future." Durvasa said, "Rama's future will undoubtedly be full of miseries. He will have to leave Ayodhya, and everyone there will feel unbearable separation from Him. You will not be able to bear His absence, and you will die in separation. Rama will later have to be separated from his wife, and after suffering immensely they will become reunited. Then again they will have to be apart; and Rama will rule the kingdom alone without his wife. Do not tell this to anyone." Dasaratha Maharaja was in complete shock, but he promised that he would not speak what he had heard to anyone. He said, "From today, I am your disciple."
Having heard this from Sumanta, Laksmana realized that his brother Rama is in fact the Supreme Lord Visnu. Sumanta continued telling Laksmana the story that Durvasa Muni had told to Dasaratha Maharaja: "Once, a very big battle ensued between the demigods and the demons. The demons were defeated and went to the wife of Brghu Maharaja to take shelter; and, being very merciful, she gave them shelter. The demigods went to Lord Vamanadeva and told him the situation. He then took His cakra and beheaded Brghu Maharaja's wife. Brghu Maharaja was very upset and cursed Vamanadeva saying, "You are responsible for my wife's death. I loved her very much. Now I will have to suffer so much in separation from her. For this I curse you that you will have to suffer in the same way in the future. You will have a very beautiful wife who will serve you in every way. You will be fully satisfied and completely enamored with her feminine grace and charm, and her saintly qualities. You will then be separated from her, and you will always suffer immensely from that pain of separation." Hearing this, Vamanadeva happily accepted the curse. He knew that in the future the whole world would be benefited by this. Also, this was but a pretext, as separation naturally increases the happiness of meeting.
Sita devi was walking towards the asrama of Valmiki Rsi, when some of his brahmacaris spotted her. They informed Valmiki that a lady looking like a demigoddess was coming. Valmiki came out to greet her, and immediately recognized who she was. He said, "Oh, you are Sita devi, the wife of Lord Rama. I know this because I have written the Ramayana. Please come in." The ladies there were very pleased to see Sita devi and said, "Oh, please allow us to serve you." Valmiki instructed them how to serve her in every way.
When Rama sent Satrughna to Mathura, he happened to come near to Valmiki's asrama on the way. He paid obeisance to Sita devi and her sons, Luv and Kush, from a distance. Luv and Kush were very intelligent children. Valmiki was very expert in archery, singing and music, and he taught Luv and Kush these arts. They could thus sing in all ragas very sweetly. Valmiki also taught them the Ramayana.
No one in the entire kingdom was there to console Rama. However, the ladies were there to console Sita devi in the asrama of Valmiki. One day Rama turned to Vasistha Rsi and said, "Will you please perform a sacrifice?" Vasistha replied, "Then you must call your wife back." "Oh, I cannot do that." "Then you must remarry," he insisted. Rama said, "It is not possible." "Then you will have to make a golden deity of Sita devi." Vasistha then performed the sacrifice. In fact, every year he performed a very big sacrificial ceremony for Rama, near Naimisaranya on the bank of Gomati, with a new golden deity of Sita devi each year.
One year many kings and sages were called, and Valmiki came with Luv and Kush. The boys were extremely beautiful, with very broad chests and slender waists. During a rest period, Valmiki asked them to sing Ramayana. They had melodious voices, and they sang in such a heart-rendering way that they captured everyone's hearts. Rama was especially touched, and tears came to His eyes. Valmiki had previously warned the boys, “If anyone asks you who you are, tell them, 'I am a disciple of Valmiki'”. Rama ordered Laksmana, "Go and give them eighteen thousand gold coins and many, many beautiful clothes and gifts. Then ask them who they are."
When they were presented with these gold coins, clothes, and gifts, they said, "What will we do with all these things? We are brahmacaris." Then Laksmana asked which dynasty they belonged to, and they replied, "You seem very learned. Why ask this? Why not ask who is our Gurudeva? We are disciples of Valmiki Rsi." For five or seven days they came and recited the Ramayana, and after many days Rama and others came to know who they were.
Rama then called Valmiki and requested that Sita devi come and prove Her chastity so that he could call her back. Valmiki said, "I have never spoken a lie in my life. I can assure you that Sita is completely pure and chaste." Rama said, "I know that. I'm quite confident of this, but I want proof for my citizens. So please bring Her here. Then we'll see what we can do."
At this time Brahma, Sankara, and many demigods and goddesses came, curious to see this event. Sita devi sent Luv and Kusa ahead to their father. She arrived thereafter, and Valmiki spoke gently to her, "O daughter, Sita devi. Come forward and prove your chastity." Sita devi said, "Mother, please prove this to one and all, that I have never served any other man. I have never even had thoughts of any man other than Rama in my whole life. Please accept me, mother." Pritivi-devi appeared from the earth and Sita sat on her lap on a golden throne. In a moment, Prthivi-devi completely covered Her. In other words, she took Sita devi with her, back under the Earth. Rama couldn't bear to see Sita leave him like this, and he fainted. Then, when he returned to consciousness, he prayed to Prthivi-devi, requesting her to bring back Sita. He told her, "One time I went with a bow to the ocean and he was very much afraid. So I can turn you into dust in a moment." Just then Brahma came and told Rama, "No. Don't do it! This is the last time. Sitaji has gone to your own abode, so you should very quickly wind up your pastimes and go there."