King Dasharatha and family“The tongue and its taste are the husband and wife, the teeth are the relatives, and the mouth is the beautiful home. Lord Shiva’s cherished syllables [Ra + ma] are the children, and natural love for them is the wealth, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 24)

daṃpati rasa rasana parijana badana sugeha |
tulasī hara hita barana sisu saṃpati sahaja saneha ||

The true potency of the union between a man and a woman is seen in the resulting progeny, the children that emerge and are cared for afterwards. The children represent a lasting link between the parents, a bond that remains throughout the life of the child. In an ideal marriage, where the husband and wife remain together, the protection and care of the children become of paramount importance, especially because both parties had a hand in the bringing of a new life to the world. The joint effort brings added importance and responsibility. But for even those who are not married or don’t want to have children, a similarly powerful entity can be created with tools that are already gifted to every person. Indeed, this most bliss evoking child can be cared for with simple love and affection, thereby allowing the nurturing and loving of the most beautiful progeny to continue without interruption.

male femaleWhat exactly are we talking about? For producing children, much effort and sacrifice are required. An ideal match between a man and a woman must be found, and both parties must be capable of bearing their share of the responsibility in conception. The man must be potent enough to impregnate the woman, and the woman must have the ability to conceive, to hold a fetus in the womb and bring it to term. In the meantime, the regular maintenance of the body must continue, which involves eating, sleeping, having clothes, etc. Therefore regular work has to continue in addition to the responsibility of bringing the child safely into the world.

Once the child is born, the trouble really begins. The early years are difficult because the child remains completely helpless. So not only is constant attention required to ensure that the child can eat properly and be cared for on a regular schedule, but there is also constant worry over trouble, as the youngster will have no way of protecting itself from danger. Then as the child matures, the worries take on a new shape, as education must be had, a job must be secured, rules and regulations must be adhered to, and eventually, marriage should be entered into. These responsibilities continue for years and years, thus requiring a lot from the parents. The tremendous responsibilities can all be traced to the original sexual union, an act independently agreed to by both parties.

Wanting to have children and care for them is an outgrowth of the natural tendencies found within spirit.  The primary property of the soul is a penchant for service. We may claim to be independent and not in need of anyone else, but every person has a penchant to serve someone or something. Even the most selfish person in the world is serving their own senses, taking great delight in meeting the demands of the tongue, stomach and genitals. Therefore in every aspect of life, there is a desire to serve without any issues of coercion or infringement on independence.

The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, wholly acknowledge the independence given to all life forms. The main focus of attention for the sacred scriptures of the Vedic tradition is on how to utilize the wonderful independence given to man. After all, crimes and deviant behavior are simply byproducts of the free will spirit, choices in how to exercise independence that aren’t received well by others. So simply having freedom is not enough, for the misuse of it can lead to unpalatable results for both the performer and the affected members of society.

Since there is a natural desire to serve, it would make sense that the best use of independence would be to direct it towards serving that one entity who is most deserving. In this respect, there are varying and sometimes conflicting opinions. Each person will claim that their object of service is superior and thus worthy of universal adoration. This is also the major source of strife between politicians and their constituents. The tax code is so lengthy because over the course of many years, new politicians have created more and more objects of service that were deemed worthy of receiving aid from the government. Hence the annual conflicts now revolve around who will be benefitted by taxpayer dollars and who is due punishment.

“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.4)

Lord KrishnaJust as the infant comes from the union of a man and a woman, every living being is created from an original person, a singular entity that most of us refer to as God. In the Bhagavad-gita, the most concise and complete treatise on spirituality known the world over, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, states that He is the seed-giving father who enters into the light of Brahman and makes possible the birth of all living entities. As spirit souls, we are eternally existing, full of bliss and knowledge in our qualities. But to reside on the earthly planet, where the independence is used towards furthering the interests of the body in lieu of serving God, a material dress is required. Therefore the mahat-tattva, the total cause of the cosmic manifestation, serves as the “store” from which our material clothes are bought.

Material nature, or the sum total of matter, can be considered the mother. But we still need a father, someone to implant the seed of existence into matter. This is where God comes in. He can be considered the original father of mankind. The souls exist eternally, but in order to appear in a realm where birth and death take place, an initial injection, a transcendental thrust taking the spirit soul out of the graces of the transcendental realm, is required. In this respect it would make sense that the ultimate object of service would be that one person to whom we are all related.

How to go about serving that entity and what His desires are form the trouble points for the conditioned entity deluded by the possessive mindset adopted at the time of birth. The scriptures came into existence to remove confusion in these areas. Though there are many religious systems around the world, the ideal goal of religion is still the same, that of loving God. The practices of spirituality that can help the individual reach this goal can be considered legitimate, and anything else can be deemed a waste of time. In this day and age especially, it is impossible to follow all the rules and regulations provided in the sacred texts. Fasting, studying at the home of a spiritual master for many years, performing regulative functions, and dedicating much time to meditation are not very easy to adhere to in the fast-paced modern world.

Lord RamaNot to fear though, as a shortcut method has been implemented, one that can actually provide all the benefits of performing every specific ritual and function enjoined in shastra, or scripture. This process is the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. “Hare” refers to the energy expansion of the Lord, the most exalted of the pleasure-giving sparks emanating from the original storehouse of energy. “Krishna” refers to the Supreme Absolute Truth’s all-attractive nature and form. “Rama” refers to His ability to give transcendental pleasure to others.

Goswami Tulsidas especially loved the name of Rama, for it not only describes God wonderfully, but it also addresses the Supreme Personality’s incarnation of Lord Ramachandra who appeared on earth in the guise of a warrior prince many thousands of years ago. Tulsidas, in trying to convey the wonder, beauty and importance of the holy name of Rama and the need for chanting it, makes a nice comparison to the key components of family life above. The mind of the disturbed individual is so accustomed to lamenting that whether one is married or not, there is constant fear. The married person regrets their decision to remain tied at the hip to another individual for the rest of their life. Surely they don’t always want out, but they definitely have to endure struggles, arguments, and being forced to compromise every now and then.

TulsidasBut then the person who isn’t married also laments. “What if I die alone? What if I never find anyone? Pretty soon I’m going to be too old to get married.” Thus there are always worries about family life and whether or not a stable one will be found. Tulsidas covers the basics of what are required for a secure family life. The couple, the husband-and-wife pair, is the first ingredient. A grihastha, or one in the householder stage of life, cannot be classified as such unless there exists a home with a husband and wife. Relatives are required next, for even if the couple has no money and no place to stay, they can lean on their relatives and close friends to help them out. Obviously the next step would be to get a home, a central base of operations for the daily activities of family life. But most important of all are the children, who are generated by the union of the man and the woman.

Just as the children are the most important aspect of the home, the holy name of Rama is the most important part of the internal, spiritual home created by the spiritually inclined individual. The Supreme Lord is so munificent that He doesn’t require wealth, scholarship or social standing to be worshiped. One can even be the poorest person in the world, without any friends, without any home and relatives, and still be able to purify their consciousness through remaining firmly linked to the spiritual world in thought. The name of Rama can be produced by the husband-wife pair of the tongue and its taste. The taste is the energy of the tongue, for without it the tongue would not derive any pleasure. Similarly, woman is the energy of man, the better half.

Lord ShivaWhen the tongue and the taste combine together to create progeny in the form of the name of Rama – whose two syllables are forever dear to Lord Shiva, a divine figure and great devotee of the Supreme Lord – the most valuable possession is acquired. To have progeny, a perfect match between man and woman is required, but for chanting the name of Rama, just the basic items of the tongue and taste will do. Most everyone is endowed with these features at the time of birth, thus making the entire world eligible for creating the most loveable child that is the name of Rama.

When a valuable possession like a new child enters the house, the immediate concern shifts to maintenance, where wealth is required. Tulsidas says that having natural love and affection for the name of Rama represents the greatest wealth, for this will ensure that the name remains protected at all times within the home that is the mouth. The teeth serve as the well-wishing friends of the tongue and the taste, for they protect from outside attack. The mouth remains the eternal home, and through chanting the name of Rama, the entire dwelling becomes spiritualized.

Lord RamaThough the discipline of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, can involve much more than just chanting, simply keeping the name of Rama as our most endearing child is enough to make the best use of our service propensity. Through service to the Supreme Lord, who is non-different from the names used to address Him, the real mission of life can be fulfilled. The material nature remains our home for only as long as the independence given to us by God remains misused. Through chanting the name of Rama, the true potency of the free will aspect of individual spirit takes shape. Gradually, the consciousness of the chanting person shifts to the point that they no longer desire separation from the spiritual realm. At the end of life, their wish gets granted, as a permanent release from the perishable realm, where even the beloved children of the husband and the wife are destined for demise, is granted.

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