Forgive me for being late....
तुम्हारो मंत्र विभीषण माना
लंकेस्वर भए सब जग जाना ||१७||
tumharo mantra vibheeshana maana|
Lankeswar bhae saba jaga jaana||
Vibhishana heeded your advice. The entire world knows that he became the king of Lanka.
But we will wonder, why did Vibhishan heed Hanuman’s advice? Was Hanuman plotting? If not what was his driver in drawing Vibhishan to Rama? What had Rama to do with Vibhishan who was after all Ravana’s brother! Did Rama make him King of Lanka in exchange for classified information on Lanka? Was Vibhishan then a traitor and is Rama aiding and abetting with a traitor? Therefore was ‘all fair’ in Rama’s art of warfare? Where from did this bond between Rama and Vibhishan have its roots? And even so, what was the motivator for Hanumanji?
Then again, Rama can give counsel, as He is even now doing. But what enables the assimilation and receipt of the counsel? Do I get the benefit of His mantra just by asking for it? What do I have to bring to the table? Do I get because I ask or is there something more I need to manifest?
Afterall we are asking everyday for such inane worldly safety too...so when is an act of giving in fact complete? When there is anukulasya sankalpah (yearning thoughts for Bhagawan) to begin with and surrender at the end!
So the lessons here are not as simple as someone bowing before the Lord...Vibhishan’s becoming King or his coronation as King of Lanka was founded on love, greater good and the commitment of the Lord.
Vibheeshan was the younger brother of Ravana, King of Lanka. Right from a very young age it is said he was a devotee of Lord Rama. It must be understood that the three brothers Ravan, Vibheeshan and Kumbhakaran had very vedic upbringing, studied under very good teachers, but each was differently disposed owing to his individual vasanas, whose outcome we see play out in the Ramayan.
That is how there is a thought that each of us have R,V and K in us. Ravan represents the Rajas, Vibheeshan the Satwa and Kumbhakaran the Tamas. Ponder...
When the three brothers performed intense tapas and Brahmaji came to each to ask for what boons he wanted, Ravana asked that he should not die, nobody whould be able to kill him; in short he wanted to remain on earth forever. And when Brahmaji regretted saying he could not grant immortality to anyone, Ravana then said, “... in that case, except for man and monkey who are too weak anyway to do anything to me, nobody should be able to kill me.” Kumbhakarna said, he would like to be left at peace to sleep 6 months of the year. Vibhishana wanted only pure, unbroken love for Bhagawan’s lotus feet.
This is the dawn of anukulasya sankalpah!
In fact it was Vibhishan’s pure humility and goodness that assured Ravana that he could be made a minister in his court as he did not see Vibhishan as a threat to his kingship. The cherry on the icing was that Vibhishan was also timid. He did not have the courage (mind level) to resist Ravana or break free from him (action level) or condemn his actions (word level). Vibhishan had a misplaced sense of loyalty and filial love so that he felt that if he remained devoted to the Lord then it did not matter what Ravana did or that he stayed in the palace of his corrupt brother and partook of his bounties. (We see a bit of the Ratnakar (the dacoit) syndrome, here.) Hence Vibhishan lacked pratikulasya varjanam – courage to resist evil.
So what we see is that mere anukulasya sankalpah is not enough. Often we say ‘I pray to Bhagavan so much, I am so devout yet my life is a mess...’ Maybe we lack pratikulasya varjanam, we lack the courage to protect the weak, to condemn the corrupt, to uplift the downtrodden, to be kind to labour and service staff...(being kind is not being rude. Being rude is an expression of our sense of superiority whereby we look down on another. By being kind we resist our tendency to be rude...when we resist our tendency to be rude we practice pratikulasya varjanam in a small way! Q.E.D.)
When Hanumanji came to Lanka braving Surasa and Lankini, he went about looking for Sita-ma and wondered where he should begin finding her. And then he passed by a home with a temple outside, and in the outer courtyard he saw a Tulasi Plant. He wondered whose home this could be, in a land of asuras...when suddenly he also heard Ram naam chanted. That was Vibhishana’s house and it was him waking up chanting the Lord’s name!
Quoting from Sunderkaand: “Hanuman was delighted at heart to find a virtuous soul. “I shall make acquaintance with him ...; for one’s cause would never suffer at the hands of a good man....” We can always be sure that a true bhakta, will protect and care for us.
Hanuman thus resolved, assumed the form of a brahmana and called out to Vibhishana. Hanuman ji, as we see, took the initiative to befriend Vibhishan, as he appeared to be a good person. Pujya Guruji says, a good person (sadhu) is a) one who helps others accomplish their tasks, b) who does not harm others by his thought word or deed.
Hearing him, Vibhishana came out and greeted him in most pleasant and humble manner befitting of a good devotee. These were his precise words, “Tell me all about you, holy sir. Are you one of Sri Hari’s own servants? My heart is filled with exceeding love at your sight. Or are you Sri Rama Himself, a loving friend of the poor, who have come to bless me (by your sight)?”
Here Kamban brings a very poetic and beautiful angle when he says about Hanuman’s thoughts about Vibhishan, “He thought that Dharma itself had taken shape and was living in a rakshasa body in order to escape detenction and destruction at the hands of the rakshasas of Lanka...”
Hanumanji introduces himself as a Sri Ram’s devotee and narrated Rama’s story to Vibhishan and asked him how one so devout as himself was living in a land of demons? Vibhishan’s response is sweet and brings a smile to anyone who reads it:
सुनहु पवनसुता रहनि हमारी , जिमी दसनन्हि महुँ जीभ बिचारी
तात कबहुँ मोहि जानी आनाथा, करिहहिं क्रपा भानुकुल नाथा (sunder kaand 7:1)
sunahu pavanasuta rahani hamari, jimi dasananhi mahu jibha bicari
taata kabahu mhi jaani anaatha, karihahi krpa bhaanukula naatha (sunder kaand 7:1)
Hear, O son of the wind-god, how I am living here: my plight is similar to that of
the poor tongue, that lives in the midst of the teeth.
Will the Lord of the solar race, dear friend, ever show His grace to me, knowing me to be masterless?
And Vibhishan goes on in many words to glorify and praise the Lord of his devotion. In reply Hanumanji reassures him that ‘We may forget the Lord, but He never forgets us!’ And belittling his own self he says,
अस मैं अधम सखा सुनूँ मोहू पर रघुबीर
कीन्ही कृपा सुमिरि गुण भरे बिलोचन नीर
Listen, my friend: though I am so wretched, the Hero of थे Raghus race has shown His grace even to me ! And his eyes filled with tears as he recalled the Lord’s virtues and adds, ‘Even to me the Lord is benevolent and kind and generous...then why won’t He shower His grace upon you?’
And thus the two devotees, stood on the porch of the house each glorifying their Lord, praising His greatness, His love, His compassion...tears gushing down their faces.
It was at this stage that Hanumanji touches a tender spot in Vibhishan and tells him to help that very Lord of his devotion find Sita. Now you have to serve Lord Rama by doing His work! Vibhishan in turn tells him where Sita-ma was and how Hanuman may get there.
Here it will be worthy to hear Guruji’s words, “It is not only important to be good, but also to do good. Hanumanji inspired Vibhishan to do good. It is not enough to just chant the Lord’s name but we should also do the <ord’s karma (work) and thereby spread His vibhuti (glories). .... Hanumanji served as Vibhishan’s guru who guided him to serve the Lord. This gave Vibhishan greater strength in his spiritual practices and to live his spiritual life uncompromisingly.”
What that means is that Vibhishan who until now only exerted anukulasya sankalpah, ie had noble and auspicious thoughts of worship and devotion, now reached the second level, where he developed the courage to practice pratikulasya varjanam, resist and condemn evil. This we see when he although until now was only telling his brother Ravana to let Sita go, but was himself unable to do anything about it, now is able to tell Hanuman her whereabouts and help in her rescue.
Vibhishan’s character is visible to us at every stage. Another time we get to see his nobility is when Ravana orders that the monkey be pit to death. Thsi was when Hanuman is caught. Vibheeshana gently points out to Ravana that the messenger should never be shot/killed. As Kamban says, “Even the Gods will mock us if we resorted to this lowness. And these men (referring to Rama and Lakshmana) did not kill our sister but only maimed her despite her ways. If we kill them now how will the enemy know and fear our power and strength?”
The next time was when the war council met after Lanka had been burnt. Then Vibhishana urges Ravana to send Sita back to Rama. Indrajit mocks Vibhishana at this point, but Vibhishana shushes him with words like this: ‘You are too young to join in this debate, so stay away. You do not know the consequences of your ideas...’ and he continues to urge Ravana telling him that Rama and Lakshman were in fact Bhagawan in 2 bodies.... But Ravan rubbishes Vibhishana’s request and after many repeated attempts, Malyavanji—their great grandfather supports Vibhishan’s advice and asks Ravan to listen to wisdom. At this point Ravan asks the guards to remove both of them from the court.
This transformation in Vibhishan where he begins to tell Ravana the errors of his ways, where he admonishes him for sinning, “Ravana you acted on bad thoughts when you kidnapped Sitaji; Return her to Rama to whom she belongs...Surrender to Rama... that is best!” Here we see Vibhishan is able to both promote what is right and also resist what is wrong. He has thus acted upon the advice that Hanuman gave him, not just heard it.
This is the ‘mantra’ that the verse refers to. Tumharo mantra Vibhishana maana...The mantra here refers to the advice, counsel – ‘It is not enough to be good, but to also do good; it is not enough to merely chant His name but its also important to DO His work....’ and it is His work that Vibhishan now enables. So that towards the end he tells Ravan,
रामु सत्यसंकल्प प्रभु सभा कालबस तोरी
मैं रघुबीर सरन अब जाऊं देहु जनि कोरी ||41|| Sunderkand
Sri Rama is true to His resolve and all-powerful; while your councillors are all doomed. I, therefore, now betake myself to the Hero of Raghu’s line for protection; blame me no more. (41)
And then Vibhishana goes across to Rama’s camp with the intention to surrender, take refuge in Him. Seeing him approach the general mood was to beware. Many cautioned Rama to watch out as this was the arch enemy’s brother.
But Vibhishana had come with the firm faith that the Lord will receive him and protect him. He had already been a devotee, but a devotee in doubt for he did not think that Rama would protect a rakshasa, the brother of the man who had taken away His wife. Recall his words of prayer to Hanuman, “Will Lord Rama protect me? This body is made of tamoguna, I do not have enough spiritual practices, and my heart is is not filled with great devotion...” In other words Vibhishana is saying, “what is so special about me that Rama will take me under His protection? But he was also not placing any importance on his sadhanas...although he was a deeply devout person! And then he tells Hanuman, “A great person and bhakta like you, came on your own to my home and narrated the Lord’s story to me... I did not call you! Isn’t this grace too? Isn’t this the Lord’s doing?”
But Hanuman had reassured him about Rama’s unfailing love and compassion... And Vibhishan had accepted his words in faith...
................and exactly this Vibhishan was to witness as Rama said to the protesting vanaras, “Every jiva is a part of me; he separates from me chasing the world... but I do not forget him... I will not abandon even the murderer of myriads of Brahmanas, if he seeks refuge in Me. The moment a creature turns its face towards Me the sins incurred by it through millions of lives are washed away. A sinner by his very nature is averse to My worship. Had Vibhishana been wicked at heart, could he ever dare to approach Me? That man alone who has a pure mind can attain to Me; I have an aversion for duplicity, wiles and censoriousness. Even if Ravana has sent him to find out our secrets, we have nothing to fear or lose ....... And if he has sought shelter with Me out of fear, I will cherish him as My own life......
Bhagawan taught His army the fundamentals of Surrender, when He says, "Whosoever surrenders totally to Me, will never be abandoned for any reason and will always be protected by Me."
Pujya Guruji says, “A child may leave home in anger but the mother never forgets her child and she waits for him to come back some day!”
And when Vibhishan came closer to land and saw the Lord, his heart melted and gushed forth uncaring of any fear. His surrender was now complete in his mind...in fact there was no mind... there was only one thought, singlepointed Rama... Here Vibhishana completes his surrender when he experiences the last 2 factors of saranagati... falling at the Lord’s feet and confessing one’s helplessness. Here we see a truth which often misses us. In prayer we keep saying help me, help me, give me, I want this... but we are genuinely unable to say, “ I am greedy Bhagavan, that is why I want more and more. This vasana of mine is inextinguishable, you please cure me,” or, “I feel such anger and hatred just now Bhagawan... I don’t know what to do (karpanya), you take it away... I don’t want this...” Confessing one’s weakness, one’s dirt, one’s smallness... is very very tough, but opens the door to complete surrender.
And Lord Rama embraced Vibhishan in complete acceptance, love and absorption. The union is complete we can see. The surrender and acceptance are simultaneous.
And Bhagawan’s famous words pours forth,
कहु लंकेस सहित परिवारा, कुसल कुठाहर बास तुम्हारा...
‘O Lankesa! Is all well with you?’
That’s all! Just these words – where Bhagawan addresses Vibhishan as Lankes... had declared the end of Ravana! (Guruji says, “Whomsoever Bhagava ordains with a title, certainly attains it!”)
Then those words were followed by a very sharp question: Living in a place like Lanka how did you manage to maintain your spiritual practice?”
These words are potent. Very very very potent. I would even say the coronation of Vibhishan is not as King, but as a very good sadhaka! For Vibhishan living with a tyrant like Ravan in a whole country of demons and then to be consistent with his sadhana is remarkable. We struggle with our sadhana even in the face of work or children or guests or tiredness! There is something here. Of course, sustaining one’s sadhana is also His grace...
Bhagawan then tells Vibhishan: You are a noble soul, hence you are extremely dear to me. Only saints of your type are dear to Me; for the sake of none else do I take a body ....
Morari Bapu makes a very poignant observation. He says Bhagawan takes an avatar not for destroying evil. Why does He need to do that? He can do the destruction anyway! He takes avatar to come and see His very noble and devout devotees, for the sants and the good souls...He gives the example of a man who writes to a friend who lives abroad saying come to India, I want to see you... but the friend is so busy with his business that he does not come...several times the man pleads but he has no time. Then one day the man’s daughter is getting married, so he writes to his friend and says “This is the only and big function in my home. I have only one daughter, if you don’t come, I will be so sad!” The overseas friend is touched and he comes, taking 3 weeks off from work etc. Now when he is in India, he says ok now that I have come, let me also check on my old house and clean it up, there will be cobwebs and dust... so he takes 2 days to go there cleans up his house as well, but in fact, he came for the man’s daughter’s wedding, you see? Likewise when Bhagawan takes avatar, he does it to visit the sant-jan and incidentally cleans up His house of dur-jan as well!!!
Guruji resonates with this through these words: “To protect people like you is the purpose of my incanration!” Or: ............. for the sake of none else do I take a body ....!
Vibhishan wanted no name or fame or wealth or anything, he just wanted to be at the Lord’s lotus feet... nothing had changed in his desires since the day as a young prince he had done tapas and to Brahma he said, Just give me unswerving abidance at the Lord’s feet...! Through thick and thin, joy and sorrow, Vibhishan’s goal remained unchanged.
So Bhagawan wanted to give him something and said, “Take care of Lanka, the people have suffered too much...” And thus Lankeswar bhaye sab jag jaana! The coronation of Vibhishana is verily the saranagati of Lanka!