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01 Apr 2019 | Monday | by HH Stoka Krishna Swami

Lord Ramachandra’s vow of protection

Lord Ramachandra’s vow of protection

sakåd eva prapanno yas

taväsméti ca yäcate

abhayaà sarvadä tasmai

dadämy etad vrataà mama

It is My vow that if one only once seriously surrenders unto Me, saying “My dear Lord, from this day I am Yours,” and prays to Me for courage, I shall immediately award courage to that person, and he will always remain safe from that time on.

This verse from the Rämäyaëa (Yuddha-käëòa 18.33) was spoken by Lord Rämacandra when Vibhishana approached Lord Rama before the battle between Rama and Ravana had begun. A description from the Ramayana follows.

Vibhishana had decided to join Räma. He crossed the ocean and arrived at Räma’s camp in less than an hour. The intelligent Räkñasa stayed in the air and asked to see the leader of the monkeys. Sugréva quickly appeared. Seeing the five huge Räkñasas in the sky wearing armor and adorned with celestial jewels, he was apprehensive. Sugréva spoke to Hanumän. “Surely these Räkñasas have some malicious intentions at heart. Let us take up rocks and trees. Leaping into the air we shall quickly finish them before they can execute their plan.”

As Sugréva spoke, Vibhishana addressed him from the sky. “There is an evil Räkñasa by the name of Rävaëa. I am his brother Vibhishana. He has carried away Räma’s consort by using trickery and deceit. Although I repeatedly advised him to return the princess, the demon would not listen. I have thus come here to seek Räma’s shelter.”

Vibhishana asked the monkeys to inform Räma of his presence. Sugréva was still highly suspicious. He ran up to Räma and said, “One of the enemy has suddenly made his appearance here. Perhaps he is a spy. There may be other invisible Räkñasas around. Please tell us how we should deal with this one.”

Sugréva told Räma Vibhishana’s name and who he was, as well as what he said. He suggested that the Räkñasa and his followers be killed immediately. Räma listened carefully. He looked around at the other monkey chiefs who sat with him. “You have heard Sugréva’s suggestion. What do the rest of you think?”

Each of them gave their opinion. They all felt that Vibhishana was to be treated with the utmost caution and suspicion, that he should be interrogated and tested before they placed any trust in him.

Räma then turned to Hanumän and asked his opinion. The monkey had studied all the scriptures, and bowing to Räma he replied, “Although You are well able to ascertain for Yourself this Räkñasa’s intentions, You nevertheless seek our opinion out of humility and kindness. I shall therefore speak my feelings in this regard. In my view we should accept Vibhishana as our own. I do not think he has any devious purpose.”

Having given his opinion, which differed from that of his companions, Hanumän asked Räma for His view. Räma thanked all of them for their suggestions and then said, “I cannot refuse to receive a person who has sought My shelter. Whatever his intentions I must accept a supplicant. This is never condemned in the eyes of good people.”

Sugréva was alarmed by Räma’s statement. He was still convinced that Vibhishana was inimical. Sugréva wanted Vibhishana to be taken captive and perhaps even killed. The Räkñasa was Rävaëa’s brother. His allegiance to Räma would never exceed his deeper attachment to his own people. Sugréva looked anxiously at Räma, who smiled and replied gently, “Your concerns are well-founded, O noble Vanara, but I have given it careful thought. Even if this demon is malevolent, what harm can he do? I can annihilate the entire horde of Räkñasas with My fingertip. We should not have any fear. And we should always abide by the instructions of the Vedas.”

Räma explained that even an enemy must be received with hospitality according to scriptural rules. Räma concluded, “If a person comes to Me saying, ‘I am Yours’ only once, then I shall give him courage and protection from all danger forever after. This is My solemn vow made here before you all. Even if Rävaëa himself came to Me, I would not refuse him shelter. Bring Vibhishana here, for I have already granted him safety.”

Everyone present was moved deeply by Räma’s speech. With tears flowing from his eyes Sugréva said, “It is no wonder that You should speak in this way, O Räma. You are the best knower of what is right and are always devoted to virtue. My doubts are gone. Let Vibhishana enjoy our friendship on an equal level with all of us.”

Sugréva gave Vibhishana Räma’s message. Feeling reassured, the Räkñasa descended to the earth along with his devoted followers. He went before Räma and lay flat on the ground with his bejeweled hands touching Räma’s feet. Getting up onto his knees, he addressed Räma respectfully. “I am Vibhishana, the younger half-brother of Rävaëa. Insulted by him, I have come here, abandoning my family, friends and home. O Räma, You are the only shelter of all beings. My very life now depends upon You.”