Soquel, California — Monday, February 7th

Service until the end

"I want to die like Kumbakarna!"

Srila Gurudeva often smacks us to attention like that. We're in "cruise control," taking in the scenery, as it were, when suddenly — wham!

Well, let me tell you, we're paying attention now.

Wasn't Kumbakarna the bad guy? Wasn't he the fearsome giant famous for his long sleep (six months at a time) and his phenomenal strength? And wasn't he the brother of Ravana?

You know who Ravana was, right? Ravana was the most feared, the most evil, and the most powerful demon of all time: he's the guy who challenged Yama, and would have defeated the God of Death and his hoary hordes of hell if Lord Vishnu had not intervened. The wives of the demigods used to miscarry just hearing his name. Yeah, that Ravana.

We're bewildered. Srila Gurudeva explains:

After Lord Rama goes into exile and the ten-headed Ravana abducts Sita, Rama and His allies set out to rescue Her. Lord Rama defeats Ravana in a skirmish before their epic confrontation in the final battle, and Ravana, seeking to stave off his final defeat, wakens his sleeping giant of a brother, Kumbakarna, to help him fight Rama.

Kumbakarna is a fearsome foe, four stories tall, and although he decimates Rama's monkey army, he is no match for Lord Rama. When Rama aims His astra — an arrow as powerful as a nuclear bomb — at his heart, Kumbakarna realizes that he is done for.

Knowing that he has just moments to live, Kumbakarna looks around and sees Ravana's army on one side and Rama's army on the other, and as the weapon strikes his heart and he topples over, he falls towards Rama's side, so that his enormous body can crush hundreds of Rama's warriors even after he falls down dead.

"I want to be like that," Srila Gurudeva says. "I want to serve up to, and even after my death..."

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Layout by iMonk — February 7th, 2005.