Presented at the Global Peace Initiative for Women Conference, March 7-9, Varanasi, India
–by Rukmini Walker
Each morning, before placing my first foot on the floor, I say a prayer to Mother Earth, a prayer from the Bhakti tradition:
samudra vasane devi
parvata sthana mandite
vishnupatni namas tubhyam
dehi male tu prartaye
Oh Mother Earth! You are holding the oceans and the mountains, you are the wife of Vishnu, today, as I begin my day, please forgive me for putting my feet upon you.
Today, Sita, in the form of Mother Earth, is being plundered by the ten-headed Ravana. With his ten heads, he conjures up denials to dismiss, deceive and delude our world into a state of dangerous slumber like the captive, sleeping beauties in his harem.
Ravana lives in the external world around us today. He also lives within us when we step out of the “laksman rekha”, the circle of divine protection and connectedness.
Sita is the divine goddess, the origin of Mother Earth, she is God in the feminine aspect. She will never submit, She is Ram’s other self. She will never consent to join Ravana’s harem or be molested by him.
The earth, and the powerful mountains and rivers are able to regenerate themselves when they are held sacred and allowed to flow freely. When they are not damned by being damned up or desecrated by man’s intervention. The earth is a sacred goddess, Sri Bhumi Devi. Her gifts cannot be regarded as simply commodities, or even resources to be exploited by the human world.
The Pyramids of Power in our culture are collapsing. Our leaders mislead us, and the general mass of people simply follow. We must work for environmental protection, both locally and globally.
But like Ravana, we ourselves can easily fall into dangerous patterns of motivation by lust, anger, greed, envy, etc.
Unless we clear the contamination within the ecology of our own hearts, then no matter how many rivers, mountains, and oceans we clean up, the contamination will just revert back, because the root cause of it is the untamed desire for over accumulation and greed within our own hearts.
We must reject the anthropocentric world view where human beings claim false proprietorship over all the world. We must create new networks of understanding the divine inter-connectivity of all that exists.
We must invert the ecological pyramid, and, in humility, place the sanctity of the earth, the oceans, the mountains, the animals, the trees, and the grass, as the ideal, and submit ourselves to the lowest place, where we, as humans, are meant to serve all others.
Sita, in her form as Bhumi Devi, Mother Earth, is sacred prakriti, or the divine shakti energy of Ram the purusha, the holder of divine energy, the shaktiman.
The wisdom books of Bhakti teach that just as the sunshine and the sun are never separated there is no meaning to one without the other, in the same way, Sita, the energy, the divine Shakti, and Ram, the energetic source, the shaktiman, can never be separated.
We ourselves, as unlimited jiva souls, in the forms of humans, animals, aquatics, trees, grass, and all that live in nature are expanded from Sita, from her divine energy. Sita is Ram’s pleasure potency, and we belong to her. Like Bhakta Hanuman, we are also meant to serve, to give pleasure to Sita and Ram in gratitude to them as our original and divine Source.
When we, like Ravana, try to usurp Sita for our own selfish purposes, when we try to dominate the earth, we ourselves, like Ravana, will be destroyed.
The path of Bhakti, is meant to assist the devotee, Hanuman, in returning Sita to her beloved Ram. The treasures of the earth are meant to be offered up in devotion to Ram, their original Source, in a consciousness of eco-bhakti.
Sri Isopanisad says: “Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by Divinity, (by Ram, Krsna, Allah, Jehovah, By the One Who is known, in so many places, by so many names). One should therefore, accept only those things necessary for oneself, which are set aside as one’s allotted share, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to Whom they belong. (Isopanisad, Mantra One)”
“Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by Divinity, (by Ram, Krsna, Allah, Jehovah, By the One Who is known, in so many places, by so many names). One should therefore, accept only those things necessary for oneself, which are set aside as one’s allotted share, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to Whom they belong. (Isopanisad, Mantra One)”
When we try to usurp the energy of God for our own self-centered agenda, then the jyoti becomes covered by a veil of illusion, called maya, or, “that which is not”. This material veil can be removed by spiritual consciousness. Matter reconnected to serving the Absolute regains its original spiritual quality. Bhakti is the process for converting this illusory consciousness into Brahman, or the Supreme.
In this way, with the arrows of our love, we can begin to slay the illusions both within ourselves and in the world that have been conjured up by the ten-headed demon Ravana. All the world rejoices when Sita is again reunited with her Ram!
Thank you very much!