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Lord Ramachandra, the Perfect Leader
by Krishna Dharma

[ Reprinted from www.ramayana.com ]

As we celebrate Rama Vijayotsava — the day Rama killed Ravana — we can reflect on how Lord Rama set the perfect example as a leader. Even to this day in India people hanker after "Rama-rajya," or a leadership like that evinced by Rama. His killing of Ravana was not only to avenge Sita but also to free the world from the scourge of that demon. And before that, of course, he slew many thousands of other Rakshasa demons who were terrorizing the people.

Obviously, protection from demons such as Ravana, and indeed any aggressor, is a necessary function of good government. But Vedic society — Rama-rajya — goes further. Certainly the protection of our bodies and our property is important, but there is something still more important, something that is all too often neglected by today’s leaders, and that is the protection and preservation of our spiritual welfare. This is actual Rama-rajya. As Christ said, "What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?"

In fact, no matter how well we may protect and preserve our material situation, will it guarantee that we will not suffer? Were the people in America, or anywhere else, all content and happy before the terrible events of September 11? Most of us, if we are honest, will have to say no. We were, and probably still are, struggling with so many miseries in our lives — anxiety, stress, relationship difficulties, illness, old age, and so on. We were making a valiant attempt to be happy, no doubt, but having to endure all kinds of distress in the process.

The Vedic scriptures, such as the Ramayana, tell us that no material arrangements, no matter how fine, will make us happy. These ancient texts exhort us to seek happiness from the spiritual level of existence, the soul. They point out that the living being is a part of the Supreme Spirit, different from the body, and therefore bodily enjoyment can never ultimately satisfy us.

It therefore behooves governments to do more than just offer material security if they actually want to ensure that their people are happy. They need to promote and encourage spiritual growth and understanding. We can see that this was the first duty accepted by the Vedic kings, and Lord Rama Himself set that example. Ravana was first and foremost an enemy of brahmins — he and his demonic followers killed many brahmins and impeded their religious sacrifices — and this was one of the main reasons why they were killed by Rama.

Unless leaders ensure that religion can be safely practiced, then ultimately no one will be happy. Of course, governments should not encourage fanatics who have only a shallow understanding of religion and simply want to use it as a front for their own ill-motivated intentions (my spiritual master Srila Prabhupada defined fanaticism as "religion without philosophy"), but they must ensure that proper religion is practiced, leading to a proper understanding of spiritual truths.

If we do not understand spiritual truths, we will surely fail in our attempts to find happiness. We need to recognize the actual causes of misery. Ultimately, misery is inflicted upon us by the agency of the material energy, which is under God’s control. This, of course, is commonly known as karma, and we need to understand how it works. Which of our acts are causing what results? Why do I suffer, even though all my efforts are aimed at finding happiness? What am I doing wrong?

Those of us who have faith in the Lord must make it our first business to deeply understand His desire. How can we please Him? What does He want us to do? We know that as our loving father He only wants our happiness, so if we are suffering it can only be because we have not properly understood His instructions. Rather than fighting among ourselves, then, should we not be trying our best to research and follow the Lord’s directions, wherever they may be found?

Our leaders should support this endeavor with all resources, and that would be real protection, beyond just saving us from aggressors. As we are plunged into yet another war, we must make spiritual knowledge our main aim, understanding the deepest root causes of our dilemmas. In this regard I would like to quote a short passage from Srila Prabhupada’s translation and commentaries on the Shrimad Bhagavatam, one of the foremost Vedic scriptures:

"Exploitation of the weaker living being by the stronger is the natural law of existence; there is always an attempt to devour the weak in different kingdoms of living beings. There is no possibility of checking this tendency by any artificial means under material conditions; only awakening the spiritual sense of the human being by practice of spiritual regulations can check it. The spiritual regulative principles, however, do not allow a man to slaughter weaker animals on one side and teach others peaceful coexistence. If man does not allow the animals peaceful coexistence, how can he expect peaceful existence in human society? The leaders must therefore understand the Supreme Being and then try to implement the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God, or Rama-rajya, is impossible without the awakening of God consciousness in the mass mind of the people of the world." (Shrimad Bhagavatam 1.13.47)

Perhaps then, at this time of Rama-Vijayotsava and Diwali, we can reflect on this. We all want peace, within and without, but unless we understand and practice true spiritual principles, we cannot find it. This is the lesson of Rama-rajya.

Krishna Dharma
October 2001

Reprinted from www.ramayana.com 

CHAKRA 15 November 2001

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