How does one express Bhakti? Is it by chanting His names or singing His glory? Or is it a deeper bhava where one longs to be of service to Him at all times? These are the sentiments Saint Thyagaraja expresses in one of his songs when he imagines the extent of selfless service that Sita and Lakshmana must have rendered to Rama in the forest, said Kalyanapuram Sri R. Aravamudhachariar in a lecture. From these two experts who served Rama, one could draw much inspiration.
The Visishtadvaita tradition establishes the relationship between the Lord and the other beings in the creation as that of master and servant. The Jivatma realises that its ultimate purpose is serving the Supreme Lord; and this is felt as a latent longing to be with the Lord at all times and to remain at His service no matter what birth one is destined to take.
Valmiki extols Lakshmana’s role of exceptional service to Rama. Lakshmana’s eligibility to serve the Lord is his greatest wealth. He is believed to be an incarnation of Adisesha who is in full time service of the Supreme Lord.
Lakshmana is agitated when Rama advises him to remain in Ayodhya while He gets ready to go to the forest. Lakshmana pleads his cause and finally convinces Rama who grants him permission. This is made possible with Sita’s blessings. He knows it is mandatory for him to serve the divine couple at all times and in all places.
When Lakshmana offers obeisance to his mother Sumitra and takes leave of her before his departure, her advice is remarkable. Sumitra had desired to give birth to a son who would be in the Lord’s exclusive service. She is a realised soul who views joy and sorrow with equanimity. She knows that Rama is the Supreme Being incarnate and hence the news of the cancellation of Rama’s coronation brings no panic to her. She is able to see the course of destiny in the lives of people.
She tells Lakshmana that he should consider Rama as his father Dasaratha, Sita as his own mother and the forests through which Rama would travel as equal to Ayodhya.
She blesses Lakshmana and enjoins him to follow the path of service to God as a sure means to salvation.