tato niñkramya laìkäyä
mandodaryä samaà tatra
Thereafter, all the women whose husbands had fallen in the battle, headed by Mandodaré, the wife of Ravana, came out of Lanka. Continuously crying, they approached the dead bodies of Ravana and the other Rakshasas.
svän svän bandhün pariñvajya
ruruduù susvaraà dénä
ghnantya ätmänam ätmanä
Striking their breasts in affliction because their husbands had been killed by the arrows of Lakshmana, the women embraced their respective husbands and cried piteously in voices appealing to everyone.
hä hatäù sma vayaà nätha
kaà yäyäc charaëaà laìkä
O my lord, O master! You epitomized trouble for others, and therefore you were called Ravana. But now that you have been defeated, we also are defeated, for without you the state of Lanka has been conquered by the enemy. To whom will it go for shelter?
Purport by Srila Prabhupada:
Ravana’s wife Mandodhari and the other wives knew very well how cruel a person Ravana was. The very word “Ravana” means “one who causes crying for others.” Ravana continuously caused trouble for others, but when his sinful activities culminated in giving trouble to Sitadevi, he was killed by Lord Ramacandra.
na vai veda mahä-bhäga
bhavän käma-vaçaà gataù
tejo ‘nubhävaà sétäyä
yena néto daçäm imam
O greatly fortunate one, you came under the influence of lusty desires, and therefore you could not understand the influence of mother Sītā. Now, because of her curse, you have been reduced to this state, having been killed by Lord Rāmacandra.
Purport by Srila Prabhupada:
Not only was mother Sītā powerful, but any woman who follows in the footsteps of mother Sītā can also become similarly powerful. There are many instances of this in the history of Vedic literature. Whenever we find a description of ideal chaste women, mother Sītā is among them. Mandodarī, the wife of Rāvana, was also very chaste. Similarly, Draupadī was one of five exalted chaste women. As a man must follow great personalities like Brahmā and Nārada, a woman must follow the path of such ideal women as Sītā, Mandodarī and Draupadī. By staying chaste and faithful to her husband, a woman enriches herself with supernatural power. It is a moral principle that one should not be influenced by lusty desires for another’s wife. Mātrvatpara-dāresu: an intelligent person must look upon another’s wife as being like his mother. This is a moral injunction from Cānakya-śloka (10).
yah paśyati sa panditah
“One who considers another’s wife as his mother, another’s possessions as a lump of dirt and treats all other living beings as he would himself, is considered to be learned.” Thus Rāvana was condemned not only by Lord Rāmacandra but even by his own wife, Mandodarī. Because she was a chaste woman, she knew the power of another chaste woman, especially such a wife as mother Sītādevī.
oà ajïäna-timirändhasya jïänäïjana-çaläkayä
cakñur unmélitaà yena tasmai çré-gurave namaù
“O greatly fortunate one, you came under the influence of lusty desires, and therefore you could not understand the influence of mother Sita. Now, because of her curse, you have been reduced to this state, having been killed by Lord Ramachandra.”
Chastity means Loyalty and this quality is most dear to Guru and Krishna
Mandodaré, has a very special place in the great history of Vedas. She is considered one of the very great examples of chastity for all women to follow. Here we find that the great acharyas are putting her in the same category as such celebrated goddesses and chaste women as Sitadevi and Draupadi. Similarly Gandhari and Savitri, they all have their unique places – these five women that Srila Prabhupad mentions.
Sitadevi was the wife of Lord Ramachandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The cause of all causes and all that is. She was the very Goddess of fortune and just by being kidnapped, persecuted and tortured by Ravana she never gave up the path of Dharma. Loyalty to one’s master is the most pleasing quality that a person can posses.
Sitadevi exhibited the super excellent qualities of complete loyalty. For a women chastity means loyalty, chastity means I will not give up the service, the exclusive service of my master, my husband under any circumstance, come hell or high water, come temptation or any other of the proposals of the illusory energy, I will always remain in life or death the obedient loyal servant of my master.
I remember, one time when I was under the instruction of Srila Prabhupad and Srila Bhaktipad (H. H. Kirtananda Swami), I was working to help them to begin various preaching centers at various places of America and a very very difficult circumstance came about, involving certain members amongst our devotees. I will not go into details at this time but it was a question of having to tell one of two devotees that they must leave.
One performed an act that was immoral, so I decided that he must go. One was a little fallen, sincere but a little fallen. The other is very staunch but the other who is very fallen is very loyal to him and to me and the other is not. He said in the eyes of God, he said in my opinion, its far more valuable to have a person who is loyal and a person, who is moral, because that person who is loyal would very quickly become transcendentally beyond morality, but that person who is not you will never be able to trust and without trust we can never truly empower him. And then he went onto explain the quality that is most dear toKrishnaand the quality most dear to Guru. It is the quality of loyalty.
Loyalty means under any circumstance I will never give up the service of my master. When the spiritual master has this confidence in you then naturally he can deliver Krishna’s fullest blessings into your life. And in the example of Sitadevi we find – she was offered a Kingdom made of solid gold, Sri Lanka, millions and millions of servants and she was threatened simultaneously that if you do not accept this, you will be tortured, you will be harassed and ultimately I will cut you to pieces and I will devour you with my own sharpen teeth. This was her choice. Either in joy the most beautiful opulent and wonderful kingdom in entire creation besides that of Lord Bramha or suffer, be tortured and die a horrible death of being eaten alive. What would you choose, torture me, harass me, eat me, I don’t mind but Ram is my master and I will never betray him. This is the quality of chastity.
Remaining a chaste and loyal servant under all circumstances pleases Guru
In the pastimes of New Vrindavan, we find in the lives of such devotees of Srila Bhaktipad, there are some devotees who were there and who are given special kindness, special love, special mercy by His Divine Grace but when the Ravanas of certain corrupted and demoniac leaders of society wanted to destroy the community, they did to these devotees exactly what Ravana did to Sita, that if you do not help us in our mission to gain more power, more prestige and more wealth which ultimately is all they want, if you do not betray your master, we will torture you, we will harass you and ultimately we will take away everything you own. Such person became the loyal obedient servants of the demons put of fear, they abandoned their chastity and their loyalty to a great soul and therefore such persons today although they are free, they are miserable. They are imprisoned with in their own minds by fear and guilt while at one time they were so surcharged and enlivened with Krishna Consciousness. Now their conception of Krishna Consciousness is unfortunately materialistic and their minds are simply groping to make a better situation in their life, they have lost the mercy of Krishna, their faces are gloomy, they have no enthusiasm for devotional service, they are guilty and miserable. Whereas on the other hand there were other devotees who, who were considered quite insignificant as far as spiritual advancement is concerned and the Ravanas of the demoniac forces of this world captured them in the same way and offered them the same way as they offered mother Sita. We will give you freedom and great hope in this world if you surrender to us and betray your master otherwise we will torture you, we will harass you and ultimately we will devour you by giving you imprisonment and the sense of death but like Sitadevi these great devotees remained loyal and true and would not betray their master and although such personalities – you have read such beautiful writings of Tirtha Swami Maharaj. He was a very very less than ordinary grihastha before he met this great challenge in his life, but now despite being in the most violent, filthy and inhuman of all the prisons of America where there are regular murders, beatings, rape, drugs, rats, filth all around in all directions plus great harassment, he has become supremely peaceful, inner fulfillment, he is seeing Krishna everywhere, he is seeing Krishna in everything and his realizations are so profound that they are a great source of inspiration even for great sanyasis and what he is speaking through his writings and through his example, he surcharges peoples hearts with the sublime understanding of Krishna Consciousness even tens of thousands of miles away. This is the great gift that is given by Guru and Krishna to the one who remains a chaste and loyal servant under all circumstances and there is no greater way of pleasing our spiritual master and accepting these qualities.
Sita Devi undergoes a test to prove her chastity towards Lord Ram by entering the fire
After Sitadevi was for almost one full year in the prison of Ravana, with the help of Hanuman, Sugriva and Lakshman, Lord Ramachandra again gained the hand of His wife. During that year who can imagine what people were thinking and saying about this whole ordeal, but after that year her testing was not complete. Ram wanted to show the fullness of the faithfulness of Sita because He rejected her after all she had done to Him (I mean for Him) after all she underwent just for His pleasure to be loyal to Him, when she was finally brought to Him at the holy place of Rameshwaram. Ram said to Lakshman you can do what you want with her but I can not accept her back because she has been with another man, insulted her and rejected her. Now do you think Sita as a chaste and loyal wife do you think she would change her great devotion. An ordinary person would think, my God I have gone through all this for you and this is all you have to say to me after a year in separation! After all I went through, all the test and tortures just for you, I could be enjoying the kingdom of Lanka forever. I gave it all up only to be harassed like no one has ever seen. And after all this I finally come back and you insult me, then you say am unchaste, you say am not worthy of you now. An ordinary woman, an ordinary disciple would say to such a person forget you, it was a great test.
The Lord continuously tests His devotees; He didn’t give her any glorification, usually when we do something wonderful for our master we expect to be glorified, she did something so wonderful and all she got was insult by her master and rejection, this was really the test of her chastity but she even accepted that gratefully. She said my Lord, my life is for you and you alone and she said, “Now Lakshman, get wood and make a fire and I will enter that fire. In my vow if there ever even a trace of disloyalty or un-chastity in my heart for even a moment during this one year then let me be burnt to ashes in this fire. That is what I deserve and if I was truly chaste and truly faithful to the Lord of my heart then let this fire prove my chastity”. So she willingly entered into that fire and she shone. The fire only caused to glow with her effulgence like molten gold and Agnidev, the fire god himself came out, after his flames engulfed her for a along time and said, “My dear Lord am the fire god himself and I have personally tested her with fire and she has been perfectly chaste and faithful to you under all circumstances” and it was then that Ram accepted her back and gave her a place beside him on the throne of Ayodhya.
Lord Ram banishes Sita Devi from His Kingdom
But do not think that’s all because you know there. Some years later Ram would have spies through out the kingdom, but they were not like the spies that we find in amongst us, sent by our politicians today. Most spies are very expert at finding what your enemy is doing wrong so that you can defeat him either by exposing his hypocrisy or by destroying him with your armies. Just like in this government, here recently there was a big scandal because there were some spies watching over a big politician to see if he was doing anything immoral or anything illegal. Ram had His spies, but His spies were to find out what everyone was saying about Lord Ram so that Ram could correct Himself and be a better servant of all the people. He had His spies out only so that He could improve His own service to His subjects. So one, I think he was a washer man in an angry argument with his wife, he said “aah, you have gone, seen another man and you expect me to receive you back, do you think am such a fool like Ramachandra that am going to receive back an unchaste woman who is been with another”.
When this news came to Ram, He was thinking aah my citizens are thinking like this, if they do not have complete trust and faith in My position then I will not be able to serve them properly, so He told Lakshman that “I can not live with Sitadevi anymore because people are doubting. For a long time she has told me that she was very anxious to see the beauty of the ashram of Valmiki muni. Please take her there and then leave her there”. So what Lakshman had done, poor Lakshman, He was greatest lover and devotee of Sitadevi, His greatest ambition in life was to see Sita, the goddess of fortune engaged sincerely in the loving service of lotus feet of Ram, so just as He had to cut the wood and lay those pieces of wood to create a funeral pyre to put her in fire, similarly He had to hitch the horses and connect the chariot and asking her to get on this chariot, in His eyes was more difficult and painful to His heart then putting up the funeral pyre.
He told Sitadevi, “Lord Ram told that you are very much anxious to see the ashram of Valmiki muni, come let us go to see”. Sita was very happy, “yes-yes let us go, let us go and have the darshan of this great sage” and she boarded the chariot and as they were driving to the forest Sita saw how Lakshman’s limbs were trembling and although as hard as He possibly could He was trying to restrain His emotions, He could not check His tears, they began to flow from His eyes, this is the most painful thing in His life, banishing the very goddess of devotion.
Sita Devi – the Epitome of Chastity, Surrender, Service and Love towards the Lord
She said, “Lakshman what is wrong, we are going to see a great sage, we are taking a ride through a beautiful forest”. But Lakshman could not stop crying, His heart was bereaved. Why is Lord Ram making me do like this? What has Sita done wrong? She has never even thought a sinful thought even in her life, She is the embodiment of chastity and faithfulness, She is an ocean of all good qualities, She is the epitome of the perfection of everything, spiritual, material, everything. What has she done wrong that she deserves to be banished to forest for the rest of her life, this way He was weeping. Sitadevi understood in her heart and she enquired from Lakshman “what is it that is causing you such grief, obviously this is not just an ordinary visit to the hermitage of Valmiki muni, what is the real purpose behind your taking me here”. And with a voice choked, with emotion somehow or other Lakshman explained to Sitadevi exactly what was taking place, that you will never see your Ram again in this life and of course this is like and invincible thunderbolt crashing upon the tender and loving heart of Goddess Sita. But with tears of love in her eyes, with the ecstasy in the form of the pain of imminent separation she spoke that Ramachandra is the Lord of my life and my only object of love and if this is what He wants from me, if this is how I can best serve Him then let it be so. I will never give up His lotus feet in the core of my heart and she spent the rest of her days in the sweetness of this mood of divine separation remaining perfectly chaste, perfectly faithful, perfectly loyal to her master and thus exhibiting to the whole world the most precious of all spiritual qualities.
Learning loyalty and chastity and faithfulness by following the footsteps of great personalilities
So, we must strive to follow in the footsteps of such great personalities and learn what it means to be chaste and faithful disciple of our master and of course also learn to be faithful to one another. In the world of Vaishnavas, every devotee is a representative of our spiritual master, every devotee who is striving to follow his instructions, and one who is only faithful to Guru but he is not aspiring to have the same sense of faithfulness for the property of the Guru, for those persons who are sincerely following the Guru, have not understood.
Developing Love, Trust and Chastity towards Guru, Krishna, Holy Name and Vaishnava
Our preaching will have real power and greatness – Srila Prabhupad said – according to how we develop the principle of love and trust. And this love and trust must begin with Guru andKrishnaand the holy name. We must have faith that Krishna is non different than His name, we must have faith – säkñäd-dharitvena samasta-çästrair – that the spiritual master, Krishna is manifesting Himself through him, therefore the Guru is non different than Krishna and we must also have the confidence that my Guru is manifesting through all my god brothers and god sisters, therefore being faithful and trusting towards them is the expression of my love for Guru and Krishna. And when we can learn to be the servant of servant with such a chaste heart then we can trust one another, be faithful to one another, we could reveal our mind in confidence to one another and hear another’s mind in confidence with one another. Rupa goswami explains that these are two of the six symptoms of love amongst Vaishnavas. To give gift and receive gift, to give prasad and receive prasad, to reveal ones mind and to hear another’s heart.
This is the world of suspicion; why? because it is an age of quarrel and hypocrisy, we have to counteract these effects, strive to counteract them by developing this type of Vaishnava relationships. Love and trust, which are based on faithfulness, loyalty and chastity. Chastity to our vows of obedience to our Guru, to Krishna, to the devotees.
Hari, Guru, Vaishnava, Bhagavad Gita. Narottam Das Thakur explained that these are the four – Hari, Guru, Vaishnava, Bhagavad Gita – we must be true to the scripture – the Gita, we must be true to Hari who is non different than His name and to the archa murti in the Temple – Krishna who is also the Lord of our heart, we must be true to our Guru who is the preceptor revealing truth onto our life and we must also be true to the Vaishnavas who are friends and partners and our associates on spiritual path, we walk together.
Let us walk together hand in hand, heart to heart in the loving service of the holy name.
Are there any questions?
Thank you very much! Hare Krishna!