“While remembering Shri Rama, the heart that does not melt should be broken apart, the eyes that do not shed tears should be smashed, and the body that does not get thrilled should be burned – what is the use of these then, asks Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 41)
hiya phā।tahu’ phū।tahu’ nayana jarau so tana kehi kāma |
dravahiṃ sravahiṃ pulakai nahīṃ tulasī sumirata rāma ||
If you can’t taste, what is the point to having a tongue? If you can’t see, why even have eyes? If you can’t feel anything, why have a body? These questions are logical enough, but when armed with the real knowledge that is Vedanta, one realizes that these various parts of the conditioned living entity are meant to function in a more specific way. The heart is there to do more than just keep the body alive. The heart can appear in any species. Why is it there in the human being, then? There must be a higher purpose.
The same goes for the eyes and the body itself. In the verse quoted above, Goswami Tulsidas appeals to our emotions to get us to understand. When our logic keeps us far away, we need a wakeup call to bring us back to reality. We may hear of someone doing something awful like striking their spouse, but it is not until we see the video of the incident that we really understand the severity of the act. Pictures tell a thousand words; images better appeal to emotions.
Goswami Tulsidas, though writing in a time when still images were not available, appeals to our emotions anyway by describing vivid images, like that of a heart bursting, eyes being blinded and a body burning. He says these should happen when there is no spontaneous reaction to hearing Rama’s name and remembering Him. Rama is God. It is one name for Him; there are many others also.
There is Rama the personality as well. He descends to this universe in a visible form whenever He feels like it. His activities and teachings are then documented in sacred texts like the Ramayana and Puranas. So there is a way to remember God. You don’t have to rely on an abstract understanding. You can hear the names Rama or Krishna, and you can always remember what they did while walking amongst us.
If you remember these things with the proper consciousness, you will get the reactions described by Tulsidas. Your heart will indeed melt. How can it not? When you hear of Rama’s love for His wife and His brothers, you will be moved. When you remember how Rama left home to save the good name of His father, tears most certainly will come to your eyes. When you remember how Rama valiantly defeated the evil king of Lanka, Ravana, and rescued His wife Sita your body will feel a thrill.
If these reactions are absent, Tulsidas says that there is no point to having the body parts mentioned. Why have a heart if it does not melt when hearing about God? What else does it melt at? If you get a lot of money, that will not last forever. The association of your friends and family will not, either. Pick any person you know today. One day you will never talk to that person again. This is guaranteed to happen.
The temporary body is a gift from God and it is meant to be used in service to Him. That service brings us happiness that is evident through spontaneous reactions. If those reactions are not there, then this body is no more important than the animal’s. We might as well not even know how to talk. What is the use of education if we’re using it to live just like an animal, who is ignorant of God’s existence?
Fortunately, the heart does not have to burst. The eyes do not have to be blinded and the body does not have to be burned. Redemption is possible. That is the whole point of the human existence. If we were meant to only enjoy, nobody would take care of us. They would let us roam free in the wild. They would never teach us how to read and write. There would be no such thing as schooling.
The parents are our first guide, and if they do their job properly they eventually bring us to the spiritual guide. Taking instruction from this person signals the beginning of the second life. Thus there are two births, with the second one being more important. In that second life we learn about God. We learn about who we are, that we are spirit at the core, living beyond the dualities of desire and hate and birth and death. We learn that we will live on forever, no matter what happens to us.
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācinnāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ purāṇona hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)
If we are fortunate, the spiritual guide tells us how to connect with God. They teach us about His features, and how He is Bhagavan. This word means one who possesses all fortunes. We know of different fortunes from our limited experiences, so we can compare those fortunes to what God has. We can then hear about Him on a daily basis. Most importantly, we can connect every day through chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. By following this route we soon realize the purpose to our body, and we make the best use of the different parts, feeling thrills throughout by using the valuable technique offered by Tulsidas: remembering Rama.
When intellect true understanding to shield,
Need towards emotion making appeal.
Eyes should tear and the heart should melt,
When remembering Rama thrill should be felt.
If not then why to us this body given?
By ignorance all other species driven.
Follow bhakti from spiritual guide,
To true purpose have opened your eyes.
Categories: dohavali 41-80