“O Rama, those eyes which do not fill to the brim with tears upon hearing the great glories of Yours should be filled and rubbed with fistfuls of dust.” (Dohavali, 45)
rahaiṃ na jala bhari puri rāma sujasa suni rāvaro |
tina ā’kina meṃ dhūri bhari bhari mū।thī meliye ||
Goswami Tulsidas here continues with his very kind sentiments directed to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The ishta-deva is the deity of choice. God is not limited to one form. The “Bhagavan” term used to address Him thus references Godhead; God can appear in many ways. As many waves as there are in the ocean, that is how many different incarnations appear in the world we presently inhabit. This doesn’t mean that God is everyone and that any person can be the ishta-deva. Rama is an authorized form described in great detail in Vedic literature. Upon hearing His glories, the devoted souls well up with tears. With so much love for Rama, Tulsidas wonders what a person who lacks this response from hearing would do with their eyes.
Eyes are used to see. This only makes sense. If you fill the eyes with dust and rub them with your hands, you obviously won’t be able to see very well. You’ll also be in pain and discomfort. Why should someone have this happen to them? Tulsidas does not reference seeing in this couplet. Seeing is a different matter, as the manifest world brings illusion at every turn. I can mistake a rope for a snake, so how strong is my power of seeing anyway?
Hearing, on the other hand, has less defects. If there is a lot going on, you can’t hear the thing you’re concentrating on. You need silence. Since your hearing requires this clarity, what goes into your ears gets retained longer. You aren’t as fooled by what you hear, either. Tulsidas says that the tears in the eyes should come from hearing. And what exactly should be heard? Rama’s supreme glory, which is actually endless.
This means that we don’t need to see God. We need only hear about Him. The response from that hearing will determine our purity in consciousness. If the proper response isn’t there, it means that we don’t know God very well. Perhaps we don’t believe in Him. Likely we are still enamored by what we see. We probably insist on visual evidence for everything, even though authenticity in so many aspects of life does not depend on sight. We know which band is playing on the radio by sound. The display in the stereo can be incorrect. It can say something else, but we know which band is playing by using our ears.
We know if a rose is nearby based on the smell. We know if we are eating pizza based on the taste. Certainly we can use the eyes to see God, but since we use the eyes to give praise to those who are not so worthy of it, how can the eyes properly recognize the divine influence? Indeed, the very presence of life indicates the hand of the divine. With the proper eyes, one can see God all the time, at every step.
Hearing is superior when connecting with the Supreme Lord, and there are ways to tell if the hearing is bringing that connection. For Tulsidas, a famous Vaishnava poet from the medieval period in India, one of the indications is tears in the eyes upon hearing the glories. Since Rama has sujasa, or supreme glory, it means that He is not impersonal. He is not a void. He is not a light. Voidness is a concept belonging to a land of duality. Sad is the opposite of happy. Short is the opposite of tall. Similarly, emptiness is the opposite of fullness. These dualities don’t exist in God because He is never lacking anything. He can show a light that lacks features, but since that light comes from Him it means that He is not without features.
What if we don’t have this reaction to hearing Rama’s glories? What if we don’t believe that Rama is God? What if we prefer to worship a less defined deity? Should we fill our eyes with dust? The hyperbole here is a tool of the poet to express strong emotion. He feels very strongly about bhakti, devotion to God in His personal form. This couplet is a way to urge others to hear about God and make their lives meaningful. Fortunately, that sound is so potent that hearing and chanting it on a regular basis can fix every aspect to our body, including our eyes. That sound comes today in a great sequence of words to be secured by one and all, the devoted and the non-devoted alike. That great sequence delivers all, not taking into consideration the varying starting points. Thus any person can be delivered through hearing: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Sound for favorite band to hear,
Smell to know that rose is near.
Sight not the option lone,
For understanding of God to own.
When tears not in eyes from glory’s sound,
Why have them, fill instead with dust from ground.
Hyperbole from Dohavali of Tulsidas,
Of hearing, meant to get point across.
From sound Supreme Lord to see,
Easy since endless glories has He.
Categories: dohavali 41-80