1. Rama-lila — pitiable or ecstasy?

    An apparently pitiable condition in devotional service may appear distressing to the inexperienced student, but the feelings of the devotee in this pitiable condition are considered to be ecstatic by expert devotees. For example, the subject matter of the Ramayana is sometimes considered pitiable and distressing to the heart, but actually that is not the fact. The Ramayana narrates how Lord Rama was sent to the forest by His father just when He was going to be enthroned. After Lord Rama’s departure, Maharaja Dasaratha, His father, died. In the forest His wife, Sitadevi, was kidnapped by Ravana, and there was a great war. When Sitadevi was finally delivered from the clutches of Ravana, Ravana’s whole family and kingdom, and Ravana himself, were vanquished. When Sitadevi came home she was tried by fire, and after some days she was again banished to the forest. All of these subjects in the Ramayana seem very pitiable, and they may appear very distressing to the reciter, but actually they are not. Otherwise, why would Hanuman, the great devotee of Lord Ramacandra, read daily about the activities of Lord Ramacandra, as described in the Ramayana itself? The fact is that in any of the above-mentioned twelve transcendental humors of devotional service, everything is transcendentally pleasing.

    From The Nectar of Devotion, by Srila Prabhupada