[October 24, 2023 is Vijaya-daśamī in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt of a bhāva anuvāda of a discourse by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on October 3, 2014. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
Today is a special day; it is Vijaya-daśamī. On this tithi Śrī Rāmacandra achieved victory over Laṅkā and installed Vibhīṣaṇa as the new king. Some are confused – Did Śrī Rāmacandra march to Laṅkā for a battle on this day or did He actually become victorious over Laṅkā after Rāvaṇa, Kumbhakarṇa and Meghanāda were killed? On this tithi, effigies of Rāvaṇa are seared to celebrate his slaying by Lord Rāma.
BHAGAVĀN MAKES SURE THAT WORDS OF HIS DEVOTEES NEVER REMAIN UNFULFILLED.
Meghanāda used to perform sacrifice called 'Nikumbhila yajña’. Whenever he performed this sacrifice before going to battle, he could not be defeated. Hence, he came to believe, ‘I have become so great. I am invincible; no one can defeat me’. Who could kill him? [As per Lord Brahmā’s benediction] Only someone who had remained without food, in other words, one who had fasted and not seen a woman's face for fourteen years could kill him. [By the will of providence] Lakṣmaṇa did not eat anything, not even fruits for 14 years [during the exile]. Although Śrī Rāmacandra would share whatever fruits were procured from the forest with Lakṣmaṇa, but due to some paucity in His communication, Lakṣmaṇa never ate them. He would just say, ‘dharo Lakṣmaṇa’ meaning ‘take this or hold this Lakṣmaṇa'. So Lakṣmaṇa would take it in his hands but would not eat. Thus the Lord made the benediction of His devotee [Lord Brahmā] come true and eventually Lakṣmaṇa killed Meghanāda.
THE GLORIES OF BHAGAVĀN REMAIN FOREVER
Everything is possible for Bhagavān, this is His bhagavatatā. (Essence of Godhood) kartum akartum anyathā karite samartha - He is capable of anything; He can make even the impossible possible’.
He built a bridge across the ocean; by His divine touch the massive stones and boulders floated atop the ocean instead of sinking. He empowered different devotees accordingly to accomplish various feats through them. After He returned from Laṅkā the king of the ocean prayed to Him, “Prabhu, please break this bridge.” Thus He used His bow and arrow to break it down. The evidence can still be found there.
The government of India was desirous to clear the remains of that bridge so that it could facilitate access for big ships. However, because many objected, it was not completely removed. It still remains the way Śrī Rāmacandra left it. The middle portion was removed, but on both the ends the structure still remains. That place is famous as 'Setu-bandha'. In 1962 there was a cyclone and the Dhanuṣkodi Railway Station was abandoned. Earlier when we went there by our private vehicle, we would rest at that station. There was a hall and kitchen for pilgrims to stay and cook themselves. These facilities were provided by the Southern Railways to attract pilgrims.
There is a place atop a hill called 'Rāma Jharoka' from where Śrī Rāmacandra had surveyed Laṅkā. During our second visit there, we observed that Dhanuṣkodi had drowned. In this way, though the places of Bhagavān’s pastimes transform [over time], His glories remain forever.
THE VOW OF ŚRĪ RĀMACANDRA
Hanumān, Jāmbavān, Nala and Nīla were the commanders-in-chief of the army of Śrī Rāmacandra. Among them was also Vibhīṣaṇa, the brother of Rāvaṇa, a devotee of the Lord. He advised Rāvaṇa to surrender to Śrī Rāmacandra, but without heeding his advice, Rāvaṇa verbally abused him and instead, banished him from the kingdom, egoistically retorting, ‘Who is Rāma?’ Rāvaṇa became falsely proud as a result of worshiping devīs and devatās in the mode of ignorance. Śiva granted him boons which in turn, made him proud; he believed himself to be invincible. So eventually, Rāvaṇa was killed despite being a great tapasvī [one who undergoes severe austerities].
When Vibhīṣaṇa had come to the shelter of Śrī Rāmacandra, Rāmacandra’s commanders advised Him against giving Vibhīṣaṇa shelter on the grounds that he was Rāvaṇa's brother. Citing that Rāvaṇa had used the guise of a sannyāsī to abduct Sītā-devī, and had sent Mārīca disguised as a golden deer to deceive Sītā so that she asked Śrī Rama to go and fetch the golden deer for Her, Śrī Rama’s comrades were skeptical and advised Him not to trust the words of Vibhīṣaṇa at that moment [Because he was related to such a deceitful enemy]. Śrī Rāmacandra agreed that what they spoke was true, but affirmed, “I have one vow.” Surprised, they questioned, “To attain You, many observe vows, but You too observe a vow?” “Yes”, Śrī Rāma confirmed, “I do have a vow. Any person who even once says ‘I am Yours’ and takes shelter of Me, that very moment I give him the boon of fearlessness (abhayatā).”
Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī narrated this in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta:
sakṛd eva prapanno yas
abhayaṁ sarvadā tasmai
dadāmy etad vrataṁ mama
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya 22.34, quoted from Rāmāyaṇa, Yuddha-kāṇḍa 18.33)
[“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.”]
kṛṣṇa, tomāra haṅa’ yadi bale eka-bāra māyā-bandha haite kṛṣṇa tāre kare pāra
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya 22.33)
[“One is immediately freed from the clutches of māyā if he seriously and sincerely says, ‘My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, although I have forgotten You for so many long years in the material world, today I am surrendering unto You. I am Your sincere and serious servant. Please engage me in Your service.’]
SINCERITY ATTRACTS BHAGAVĀN
If someone [sincerely] just once utters the words, “Kṛṣṇa I am Yours”, from the core of their hearts [the Lord will be captured]. Mere lip service will not suffice. Simply uttering something verbally while having something else in the heart has no value, because Bhagavān is the indweller and knows everything. So He does not pay heed to one who only externally becomes a devotee. [Endnote 1] Bhagavān takes notice of one who is sincere. Vibhīṣaṇa was a sincere devotee and so he was made the King of Laṅkā and simultaneously given the service of Śrī Raṅganātha. Vibhīṣaṇa would personally come there daily to serve Śrī Raṅganātha.
Upon Śrī Rāmacandra’s arrival [in Ayodhyā] on the first day, fourteen lamps were lit because He was returning to His kingdom after fourteen years. When He arrived, all the people rejoiced in festivities by colorfully decorating their houses and illuminating them with countless lamps to welcome Śrī Rāmacandra. So this festival ‘Dīpāvalī’ is celebrated. As per the Vedic custom, welcome is always done by offering of lamps. It is done with five lamps on a plate, so the minimum number of lamps should be five. In the temple, the daily ārati is performed with ‘pañca-dīpa’.
So, today is Śrī Rāmacandra’s Laṅkā-Vijaya Utsava. And later is the festival of Dīpāvalī celebrated to commemorate His auspicious arrival in Ayodhyā.
Endnote 1 [Excerpt from the book Viśuddha Caitanya-vāṇī]
THE TRUE MEANING OF SINCERITY
When used in normal speech, the word ‘sincere’ can have one of two meanings: the first of which indicates truthfulness, “Whatever I say is one hundred percent true.” When composing letters, we present ourselves as trustworthy individuals through the use of signatures like, ‘sincerely’ and ‘yours truly.’
The second meaning of the word ‘sincere’ relates to one’s serious and honest efforts to accomplish an assigned or consciously accepted commitment. A Sanskrit synonym for ‘sincere’ is found in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.7.42):
yeṣāṁ sa eṣa bhagavān dayayed anantaḥ sarvātmanāśrita-pado yadi nirvyalīkam te dustarām atitaranti ca deva-māyāṁ naiṣāṁ mamāham iti dhīḥ śva-śṛgāla-bhakṣye
Anyone who is specifically favored by Bhagavān due to their sincere surrender—that is, surrender without pretention to the service of Bhagavān— can overcome the insurmountable ocean of illusion and can understand Him. But those who are attached to this body, which is fit to be eaten by dogs and jackals, cannot do so.
Here, the concept of sincerity is indicated by the use of the word nirvyalīkam, which refers to a person who never nurtures desires belonging to this material world, and wishes only to remain constantly engaged in kṛṣṇa-bhakti. It is this second meaning that should be accepted when the word ‘sincere’ is used to describe individuals whose sole desire is to serve Bhagavān and His devotees. Although temporary material desires may manifest in a devotee due to the presence of anarthas that have not yet been fully removed, he should be considered as sincere if he possesses in his heart genuine feelings of remorse and prays for the mercy of the Vaiṣṇavas to overcome his anarthas.
Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa has said to Uddhava:
tato bhajeta māṁ prītaḥ śraddhālur dṛḓha-niścayaḥ juṣamāṇaś ca tān kāmān duḥkhodarkāṁś ca garhayan
proktena bhakti-yogena bhajato māsakṛn muneḥ kāmā hṛdayyā naśyanti sarve mayi hṛdi sthite
bhidyate hṛdaya-granthiś chidyante sarva-saṁśayāḥ kṣīyante cāsya karmāṇi mayi dṛṣṭe ‘khilātmani
A sādhaka who has developed faith in narrations about Me and is disgusted with all types of karma may still be unable to give up material enjoyment and the desire for such enjoyment. Knowing that such pleasures are actually sources of misery, he should condemn himself while attempting to enjoy them. Thereafter, in due course of time, he may be able to worship Me with love, faith and fixed determination. When the sādhaka constantly worships me by the method of bhakti-yoga that I have described, I come and sit in his heart. As soon as I am established there, all material desires and the saṁskāras on which his material desires are based are destroyed. When the sādhaka directly sees Me as Paramātmā situated in the hearts of all living entities, the knot of the false ego in his heart is pierced, all of his doubts are cut to pieces, and his desire to perform karma is completely eradicated.
The use of the word prītaḥ here indicates that the sādhaka becomes completely engaged, and that the entirety of his efforts, which are full of sincere love and affection, are done solely with the aim to make kṛṣṇa-bhajana his life and soul. He does not engage in performing these activities as a matter of duty; rather, he performs them with complete sincerity out of true, intrinsic love, or prīti.
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has expressed this idea in his kīrtana based on the fourth verse of Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam, in which he prays in the mood of a sincere sādhaka:
tviṣaye ĵe prīti ebe āchaye āmāra sei mata prīti hauka caraṇe tomāra
Whatever affection I have for worldly pleasures, may I develop the same affection for your lotus feet.
Similarly, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has prayed:
yuvatīnāṁ yathā yūni yunāṁ ca yuvatau yathā mano ’bhiramate tadvan mano me ramatāṁ tvayi
Just as young women take pleasure in thinking of young men, and young men take pleasure in thinking of young women, kindly let my mind take pleasure in You alone.
In the aforementioned ślokas from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that although devotees may possess certain shortcomings in their śādhana (such as the inability to control their senses) due to their remaining anarthas, He Himself cuts the roots of all the material desires of those who, while lamenting their anarthas, worship Him with sincerity—the same type of sincerity expressed by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī—and have full faith and firm conviction in their hearts that they want to perform, at all costs, the sevā of Bhagavān and His devotees without concern for the material outcome. By this, the devotees will be free from all material hindrances.
It is merely the desire to become sincere that ensures a devotee’s attainment of sincerity. With this sincerity, the devotee becomes eligible to perform the type of bhakti that will elevate him to the platform on which he can identify a true praṇayi-bhakta.