Sri Ramakrishna would extol the glory of true devotion. He would say that a devotee, who has tasted the bliss of the Lord’s vision or company, does not seek anything else. Nothing connected with the world, however precious it may be, will be of any value or interest to him. He used to explain this through an anecdote from Ramayana.

Vibhishana, although he was the brother of Ravana, understood who Sri Ramachandra was and was deeply devoted to him. After Ravana’s death, Sri Ramachandra wanted to crown Vibhishana as the king of Sri Lanka. But, Vibhishana, who had surrendered himself at the feet of Sri Ramachandra, was not willing to accept this offer. He had tasted the bliss of the company of the Lord and was not interested in worldly allurements. With a voice choked with devotion, he said, “O Rama, I have obtained you. What else do I need in this world! What shall I do with kingship?”

But Sri Ramachandra told him, “Vibhishana, be the king of Sri Lanka for the sake of the ignorant, because such people might ask what did Vibhishana gain by surrendering to Sri Ramachandra and what riches he had gained by serving Lord Rama.” He added, “Please accept the kingship to teach them a lesson that those who surrender to the Lord are taken care of in every way. Not only are they elevated spiritually, their existential needs are also taken care of.”

In fact, this is what Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 Verse 22: “Whoever, being devoted to me solely, engage themselves always in contemplation and worship of Me — to such ever-steadfast devotees I ensure the procurement of all their wants (salvation) and the preservation of their assets (worldly interests).”

अनन्याश्िचन् तयन्तो मां ये जनाः पर्युपासते।
तेषां नित्याभियुक्तानां योगक्षेमं वहाम्यहम्।।9.22।।

Thus Sri Ramakrishna would explain that the company of the Lord and the resultant bliss are rewards in themselves for true devotion. Such a devotee does not aspire for anything else.

– by Swami Shantatmanandaji, published in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ column, Sunday Guardian, 13th Jul 2013

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