Is Lust really bad?
Lust is demeaned in society as ‘instinctual’, embedded in every person. Inspite of being protected from environments radiating low vibrations, experiencing lustful thoughts and feelings become common in adolescence. Hormonal changes in children empower them with the potential to grasp skills faster than children of any other age-groups. They have immense capacity to boost their skill-sets and unravel unexplored dimensions of their lives. But, most times due to lack of guidance, adolescents fall prey to their infatuation and engage in energy draining activities. On the contrary, spirituality suggests that Lust is a powerful tool that can be applied to spiritual activities to grow past our lower tendencies. The prevalent means to satisfy lust causes depression and seeks withdrawal at the earliest before it becomes too severe. On the other hand, lust when applied to spirituality causes joy and encourages us to pursue further spiritual activities. ‘Lust is inapplicable to spirituality’ claim many people.
‘The 4 aims of human life, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are rooted in Lust (kama)’ says a sanyasi. A grihastha (householder) too finds this statement awkward let alone be claimed by a sanyasi. But, this statement is proven beyond doubt as the Shastras reveal: “Lust when transformed spiritually, with one-pointed love towards Bhagawan is Bhakti.” Common man when overpowered by lust, commits regressive activities while spiritual love, Bhakti endows one with progression in both spiritual and material fields of life. Spiritually one is able to focus on the goal of life while materially one gains more charge of one’s own life without giving in to the flimsiness of the mind.
Showing interest in sexual activities and breeding over its thoughts, depletes energy and tarnishes one’s personality, complemented with inability to make decisions. One becomes fearful and indecisive. Instead of expending energy, if applied to spiritual activities it becomes an energy booster. Lust is material but Bhakti is spiritual because the object of attraction is the Lord who is unlike mortals. Normal male/female beings are perishable due to matter being their constituent building blocks. Bhagawan is spiritual by nature and displaying love towards Him is Bhakti.
Motive of Marriage – Lessons from Ramayana
Marriage is a divine arrangement and its basis should be for a higher cause and not merely for sense-gratification. It is a bond wherein the couple get closer in the subtle platform and evolve mentally and spiritually.
Sita-Kalyanam (or marriage of Sita devi) inspires every woman to look upon her husband with reverence and at the same time the character of Sri Rama guides man to look upon his wife with respect too. This marriage is no ordinary. It is divine. It teaches man to apply the values of marriage in the most appropriate manner to ensure a happy life. In modern times, most marriages end-up in divorces, the sole reason being craving for sense-gratification. Therefore, through this episode (Sita-kalyanam) we find that not lust but only pure love (of which caring for both material and spiritual upkeep) for his/her spouse can yield an everlasting marriage. One should be faithful to one’s spouse which is only possible through spiritual love or Bhakti towards Bhagawan. Only if we are committed to Bhagawan can we be even faithful to the other, as it grants us with the capacity to care for others and not be self-centric.
Significance of some marriage rituals
In marriage ceremonies, there is a ritual where the man holds the hallux (big toe) of the woman and chants the mantra dictated by his priest: The significance of this ritual is that the husband asks his wife to become as stable as her big-toe (which holds the entire weight of the body), for not always good times will support their marriage. Moreover, the wife adds into her account the responsibility of her new family (in-laws) as well as the family she commences with her husband. On account of the couple’s collective karmas, bad times and good times fluctuate and thus the husband seeks his wife’s assistance through this gesture.
A similar ritual is observed in the Punal ceremony which is performed for boys where he is asked to become stone-hearted. He is about to start his gurukul life (vedic school-life) which seeks one-pointed commitment. Detachment towards one’s parents is symbolized through this ritual as he seeks alms as a Bhikshuk (monk). It symbolizes that he is apart from his family and is committed only towards his education and spiritual master (Guru).
Significance of Mangalsutram
The husband ties a thread (commonly called Magalasutram) around the neck of his wife. This ritual is known as a symbol of love and commitment. But, the shastric significance of this ceremony is that the sacred thread represents the age of the husband. The thread signifies that the husband is alive. Therefore the husband ties it with the mantras which translates as “My wife, live for a hundred years with this thread tied around your neck.” In this way, he prays for both his life as well as he wishes a longevity for his wife. It is said that till the time the thread is tied around a devout wife’s neck, the husband’s adds in more years to life. The mantra binds both their lives together through the thread. So more than it being a symbol of love and commitment it symbolizes oneness.
Significantly, the Shastras bless both the husband and wife with a life-span of hundred years.
How is Sita Devi Superior to Sri Rama?
At the time of marriage, King Janaka insisted that Sita would place her palms on top of Sri Rama’s palms. This concludes that, King Janaka held Sita Devi at a much superior pedestal than Sri Rama to which Andal writes: “Indeed Sita Devi is superior to Sri Rama for her hands are red-tinted lotus (Senthamarai) while Perumal, Sri Rama’s hands are mere lotus. Sita Devi’s hands excel in beauty than that of Sri Rama.”
This is the external significance, in terms of beauty. The spiritual significance can be derived when analyzing the pastimes of the Lord.
Bhagawan is extremely particular about his devotees. His laws are harsh when exercised on non-practitioners of Dharma. Like we can see that Bhagawan gifts love and affection for devotees like Vibheeshana, Arjuna and Vidura while punishments like grief and painful death are reserved for enemies of his devotees like Ravana, Duryodhana and Dhritarashtra. A spiritual aspirant may fear not anything other than the Lord. But, fear should not pervade the minds of devotees and for this reason, Sita Devi holds the hands of the Lord.
When a devotee errs, Sita Devi relieves him of all Doshas (sins). Her benevolence makes the Lord ever-accept His enemies too. Therefore, Sita Devi paves way for fallen souls to attain Bhagawan. She is called Kamala where ‘Ka’ means Bhagawan, ‘Ma’ means jivatma and ‘la’ means give and take. She is the mediator, who supervises that every jiva reaches the lotus feet of Bhagawan. She is superior to Bhagawan as she is unbiased and due to her consent alone, Bhagawan grants everybody with Moksha.