“Those who trust in Shri Rama’s holy name, who have confidence in it and love for it, collect all good qualities and auspiciousness simply by remembering it, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 33)
rāma nāma para nāma teṃ prīti pratiti bharosa |
so tulasī sumirata sakala saguna sumangala kosa ||
A very simple formula for attaining success in life coupled with a wonderful reputation is provided by Goswami Tulsidas, a devotee of Lord Rama, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the form of a warrior prince. Though He might be given second billing because He is considered an incarnation of Krishna or Vishnu, Rama is lacking nothing in spiritual attributes, as He is the same Bhagavan, full of fortune and opulence. He holds the qualities of beauty, wealth, renunciation, strength, wisdom and fame to the highest degree and simultaneously.
Another way to praise Rama is to view Him as the storehouse of all good qualities and virtues. If we’re looking for a particular item or object, it is best to search for it in a place that has it in full supply; this way we’ll know that the seller is familiar with the item in question and that they have dealt with it before. If we acquire our desired objects from a reputable source, we’ll know that they are genuine. Thus we can feel safe knowing that our product is of a good quality. In a similar manner, if we want to acquire the noteworthy qualities of piety, virtue, kindness, honesty, wealth, beauty and fame, we can strive for each one separately or we can go directly to the source of all goodness and collect on what we are due. The Supreme Lord is not stingy in this respect, as He is the most generous benefactor to those who know how to interact with Him properly. The nature of the interaction is the key, and thanks to the nice formula provided by Tulsidas, the proper exchange of emotion can be found very quickly.
Would God withhold His opulence from His children, those sons and daughters who are always linked to Him despite their forgetfulness of a higher power and His wonderful magnificence? Let’s think of it this way. Say one of our children approached us for some money. “Dad, can I have fifty dollars?” “Well, son, what are you going to use it for?” “I want to place a bet on tonight’s football game. I need fifty dollars to give to the bookmaker.” For the father in this example, fifty dollars is not a large sum of money, as he earns much more than that in the course of a week to support his family. In this particular instance money is not the issue, but rather how it will be spent. Gambling is certainly not a constructive activity, as it is delineated as one of the four primary sinful activities by the Vedas. Meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex are considered the most detrimental activities in terms of their effect on the consciousness, which is the determining factor in whether or not a living entity remains in the association of God. Therefore whatever activities can purify consciousness should be accepted, and anything that is harmful should be rejected.
Aside from the negative influence on fostering a spiritual consciousness, the father knows that the son has much better things to do than to waste his money on a wager. Therefore the father will deny the request, even though he is fully equipped to supply the fifty dollars. The Supreme Lord, who is the richest person in the world, can provide endless amounts of money to people that approach Him, but He will not do so without first evaluating the potential damage that can occur. With other spiritual personalities, who are known as devas, or demigods, the aforementioned evaluation is missing. These exalted figures are tasked with distributing benedictions to whoever pleases them properly, irrespective of the underlying motives. With the Supreme Lord, who can be worshiped as an abstract energy or through one of His non-different forms like Vishnu, Krishna, Rama and several others, you don’t always get what you want. He first surveys the situation and then decides if the benediction will be beneficial to the person asking for it. For these reasons many other spiritual personalities are often approached first, as the Supreme Lord is known to scrutinize in this manner.
In the eyes of the Lord, what reasons are considered legitimate for giving out rewards? How can we get wonderful qualities, saguna, and everything auspicious, sakala sumangala, from the person who is never bereft of anything? The father may provide fifty dollars to the son, but once that money leaves him, his net bank balance decreases. With the Supreme Lord, however, there is never a loss. He can dish out millions of dollars and still not suffer any loss to His personal fortune. Such apparent contradictions can only take place in the spiritual realm, where the proprietor defies all laws of logic, math and science. In the spiritual realm, one plus one can equal five, should the Supreme Lord declare it to be so.
The key to gaining Rama’s favor is to find out what He desires. Can God actually desire anything? Isn’t personal satisfaction a resort of the conditioned souls bewildered by the dualities of material existence and the mortality of every life form? As the storehouse of every beneficial virtue and quality, Shri Rama is certainly capable of desire, though His wants are spiritual and pure in every way. It shouldn’t surprise us that His desire actually corresponds with our own primary want, that of loving association. Nothing pleases the Supreme Lord more than to have the most intimate of relationships with His fragmental sparks, which include all the various forms of life on earth. But only in the human form of body can familiarity with Rama’s earnest wishes be acquired. Only in the human life can the fruit of existence be properly identified and hopefully tasted.
That goal can be reached through many different avenues, as the necessary requirement is a sincere desire to associate with God. Though the solution seems easy, convincing the mind of the validity of the mission is not. Over many lifetimes on earth, the spirit souls inhabiting the world have steadily increased their aversion to loving God. Evidence of this is seen with the degraded practices that pass for virtue today. As an example, in earlier times killing an innocent animal for no justifiable reason was considered the greatest sin, especially if the animal was a cow. A cow kindly provides milk to the human being at no cost. The cow is still able to maintain its life and take care of its dependents after the milk is pumped, so there are only benefits to go around. Therefore killing the cow is worse than killing any other animal, as no other animal is as kind and benevolent.
We know that today killing cows is a lucrative business, as their milk is taken first, processed into other food products like cream, butter and cheese, and then the cow is mercilessly killed. The same milk products are then placed on top of the cooked meat, beef, to enhance the flavor. We could go on and on describing the sordid tale, but the point is that only through much elapsed time and increased deviation in thought from God and real religion can the situation evolve to the point where it is today, wherein slaughterhouses are seen as not a problem in the least bit, even by those who claim to be devoted to God.
The newly concocted dharmas, or systems of religiosity, make it difficult for the mind to be convinced of the need to serve God, as the basic demands of the body can seemingly be met without any attention paid whatsoever to spirituality. Fortunately for us, the saints, the true devotees who never deviated in thought, word, or deed from loving God, supplied us information on how to achieve life’s mission. In the above referenced verse from the Dohavali, Tulsidas provides a very simple formula, one that is complete in every way. The key ingredient to his formula, which is by no means a secret or one concocted personally by the poet, is the holy name, as this sound vibration brings direct audience with the Supreme Lord.
If we regularly chant, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, we are basically telling Lord Rama that we want to be by His side. We want Him always with us, and if we can’t see Him or if we somehow forget His beautiful form for even a second, we will simply chant His name again to revive our divine consciousness. In this respect even forgetfulness is auspicious, as it presents new opportunities to remember God. Since reciting the name of God signals a direct desire to be with the Supreme Lord, He will naturally oblige and give us His association.
Chanting alone can only take us so far, though. If we still have desires to use benedictions from the Supreme Lord for other purposes, we will not receive the full storehouse of attributes that the kind Lord and His beloved wife, Sita Devi, are ready to bestow upon us. Sita is considered an incarnation of Lakshmi Devi, the wife of Lord Vishnu in the spiritual sky. Nevertheless, Sita is an eternally existing figure, just like Rama. During her time on earth, she would charitably distribute the couple’s wealth to various persons who were deserving of it. She was always eager to go into the forest to visit sages and gift them with gold and jewelry. Sita is always anxious to bestow benedictions upon those who recite her husband’s name.
While the name of the Lord is the key ingredient in religious practice, the mood in which this sound vibration is chanted is the determining factor of whether or not the proper benedictions are received. Tulsidas says that the name of Rama should be chanted with confidence and love, with the devotee having full trust in its potency, depending on the sound vibration as their life and soul. When the name of Rama is chanted in this way, whenever the name is remembered, i.e. whenever it is heard or recited within the mind, all auspiciousness and benedictions come. In this way we see that there is a three step process. First, the name of God must be found and recited. Secondly, there must be love and faith in the chanting, along with trust in the person it represents. Dependence on the holy name means not holding on to any other process of religion or aspect of material life as being a more generous benefactor. This mindset is very difficult to achieve, because it is the natural tendency of man to believe that if he fails to perform a specific activity, he will become destitute or a loser. “If I fail to do my work properly, all my possessions and relationships will vanish. If I fail to eat properly, I will be unhealthy and lose my life.” These concerns are certainly valid, but having dependence on the name of Rama means putting the focus of concern into the chanting process. When the primary concern becomes the fear of the effects that will result from not chanting Rama’s name, the attitude of trust and dependence is adopted properly.
When the proper mood is there in chanting, all one has to do is remember the name of Rama and good things will come. More than just a rosy picture painted by Tulsidas, we know that this is a fact that can be proved by real life examples. Shri Hanuman, the faithful servant of Lord Rama, is proof positive that when the right mood is adopted, one will never be bereft of anything. Hanuman spends all his time chanting the names of Sita and Rama, and thus he is never lacking anything. In life he just requires the bare essentials to keep his devotional practices going. Sita Devi ensures that Hanuman is never without what he needs. But the greatest benediction he receives, aside from the wonderful qualities and virtues that belong to him and never exhaust, is the ability to continue to remember his beloved Rama. Hanuman is himself a storehouse of good qualities, so anyone who remembers him and his foremost occupational duty in life, devotion to Rama, will similarly be able to collect all good characteristics and auspicious qualities.
When there is dependence on the holy name acquired through a steady purification in consciousness that is concomitant with practice in bhakti, or devotion, Rama takes it as an indication of the devotee’s fervent desire to have His association. Therefore Rama will never deny their requests, nor will He hold back on sharing His limitless opulence. Rama is known as Bhagavan because of the fortunes He possesses, but the exalted devotees are also sometimes addressed as Bhagavan. They collect good qualities through their virtuous mindset, and they also have the greatest treasure of all, association with God through His holy name. Therefore there is no reason not to follow the formula outlined above, as one only becomes the greatest gainer by abandoning all other varieties of religion and surrendering unto the holy name and its potency.
Not all requests will the good father grant,
If harm will come, to son he will say, “I can’t”.
Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord, follows the same tact,
That He is Bhagavan, full of fortune, is a known fact.
If you want temporary rewards, demigods do you ask,
Unconcerned with motive, giving boons is their task.
Through time, the real religion man does forget,
Forges concocted dharmas and thinks they are the best.
Fruit of existence is the Supreme Lord’s association,
This comes from a sound vibration and its glorification.
Follow the formula of Tulsidas, poet and devotee of Rama,
Chant the name with love, and collect all good qualities as alms.
Have trust and confidence in the name,
Remember Shri Hanuman, of glorious fame.
Those who follow this formula have all their needs met,
By remembering Rama’s name, eternal bliss they get.
Categories: dohavali 1-40