When Crying Is A Good Thing

[Rama's lotus feet]“Tulsi says, ‘O Rama, if the eyes don’t shed tears of love when hearing of your glory, it is better not to give them; or just make them blind.” (Dohavali, 44)

sravai na salila sanehu tulasī suni raghubīra jasa |
te nayanā jani dehu rāma karahu baru ā’dharo ||

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“Real men don’t cry.” We have likely heard this before. For women, crying is permitted. Indeed, sometimes it is used as a weapon. The man is so uncomfortable with a woman crying that at the first sign of tears he’ll give in to her requests. Whatever she wants, he’ll do, provided that she stop crying. From this verse from the Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas says that eyes are there for crying especially when there is a specific sound that goes into the ears. If the stream of tears is absent, Tulsidas would rather not have eyes in the first place.

The following situation once played out on an episode of the American television sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond, and it is not difficult to envision. You’re late for work one day. You’re rushing to gather your things, and you finally make it out the door. A few minutes into your journey, you realize that you’ve forgotten something important at home. So you head back, but before you open the door, you take a quick peek through the window.

You see your wife sitting in the living room. This isn’t out of the ordinary, but you notice that she’s crying. In fact, she’s bawling. You have no idea what’s going on. You wait a few minutes before going back in. You don’t run into her, but for the rest of the day you can’t stop thinking about what you saw. “Is she upset with me? Did somebody yell at her? Maybe she’s just sad about life. What can I do to cheer her up?”

Not able to figure out what happened after a few days, you finally question her on it. Her response surprises you.

“So you just watched me through the window? What is wrong with you? No, I wasn’t angry with you; though I can’t say the same now. There was nothing wrong. Sometimes I like to cry. It makes me feel good. I put on some sad music, sit there, and after a few minutes the tears start streaming.”

Though it may be difficult to understand, tears do not have to be rooted in negative emotions. In the highest state of devotional ecstasy, there are always tears. Here a famous Vaishnava poet says that tears should come from hearing of the glory of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The name used here is Raghuvira, which means “hero of the Raghu dynasty.”

[Lord Rama]This dynasty ruled the earth a very long time ago. We get the names of the kings in that dynasty from Vedic literature. The most famous of those kings was Shri Ramachandra, who is also considered to be an incarnation of God. Ramachandra, also known as Rama, is the deity of choice, ishta-deva, for Goswami Tulsidas. Rama is the hero of that dynasty because He did extraordinary things. In fact, no one else can do what He did; another reason that He is God. He is also the supreme deity based on what authority figures say. The incarnation cannot be made up after the fact, and Rama’s divinity was described even before His descent to this world.

The tears should be due to love; not fear. There is the impending death to worry over. We will have to leave the body we call home right now. That is pretty scary to think about. All the deaths we see on television – the same thing will happen to us one day. The manner may not be the same, but the end result will be identical. This is cause for fear, but it shouldn’t be. The same Rama in His original form of Krishna says that the soul never dies. He tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita that dying is like taking off clothes; it is nothing to worry about.

vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya

navāni gṛhṇāti naro ‘parāṇi

tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāny

anyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī

“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.22)

As death is guaranteed, every part of the body is in our possession temporarily. We have these eyes right now; we should use them for something. Obviously we use them to see. Tulsidas says that the sight isn’t so important. It is the stream of tears that indicates whether or not our eyes are being used properly. When he hears the glory of Raghuvira, he cries tears. If these tears are absent, he thinks that he does not have pure devotion, and so he doesn’t want to have eyes.

[Lord Rama]This is a very nice thing to say to God. It means that the devotee doesn’t want anything else. They are not after money. They are not after their own fame. They want every part of their body to be used for devotional service, the highest engagement for man. “Real men” may not cry, but the devoted soul who has reached life’s ultimate achievement certainly does. They cry all the time, and they are not embarrassed by it.

In Closing:

Not to cry are men,

When tears flow what then?


To consider them to be weak,

But not when life’s goal they meet.


When sound of Hari’s glories to go,

Into ears, tears from eyes to flow.


For Tulsidas eyes having no other use,

For Rama devotees crying tears profuse.


Categories: dohavali 41-80

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