“Tulsi says that Rama favors the desires of His servant more than His own. How can anyone turn their back on such a sweet master as the husband of Sita?” (Dohavali, 48)
tulasī rāmahi āpu teṃ sevaka kī ruci mī।thi |
sītāpati se sāhibahi kaise dījai pī।thi ||
“I’ve heard of bhakti-yoga. I know that it is the process of meditation done with devotion. It is similar to other kinds of yoga, except there is attachment to another object. It’s supposed to be selfless. You’re supposed to do whatever it is that God wants you to do. You shouldn’t be in it for your own benefit, even though by following bhakti-yoga you’ll be benefitted the most. I wonder what it is you’re supposed to do, though. In other kinds of yoga the action is laid out. You meditate, you study, you work with detachment – but what about in bhakti?”
Devotion in the pure stage lacks both motivation and interruption. We get this definition from the Shrimad Bhagavatam, an ancient Vedic text focusing specifically on bhagavata-dharma, which is another name for bhakti-yoga. You lose motivation because you’re not in it for yourself. Motivation in this sense relates to the personal wellbeing. Not that you want to harm yourself, but when you have personal motives, your love for God is not pure.
Interruption is also gone. This means that you’re not in it for just a short while, intending to give it up at a later date. Bhakti-yoga is the end. It is the culmination of all systems of maintenance. Every speculation we’ve ever had about our reason for being, every philosophy on life we’ve tried and applied – it ends at bhakti. And that end is a continuous flow of loving service, which never stops since the individual never ceases to be.
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)
What exactly is that service? What does it involve? Here Goswami Tulsidas gives us a hint. He says that Shri Rama cares more about the interests of His devotees than His own. The devotee is the person engaged in bhakti-yoga. Rama is the object of service; He is the recipient of the love offered by the devotee. Rama is the detail behind the abstract concept of God. In His form of Krishna He delivers the Bhagavad-gita, which is timeless wisdom that awakens the soul to its true purpose in life. In His form of Vishnu He creates this and innumerable other universes simply by breathing. Through His external energy expansion He is the material nature that bewilders us, under whose force we constantly struggle.
mamaivāṁśo jīva-lokejīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥmanaḥ-ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇiprakṛti-sthāni karṣati
“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 15.7)
From Rama’s generous disposition, we see that the devotee can do whatever they want for their service. As long as they serve Rama, their work falls in the category of bhakti-yoga. Rama does not force everyone to follow the same path. The younger brother Bharata meditates in a tiny hut, awaiting Rama’s return to the kingdom of Ayodhya. Sita and Lakshmana follow Rama to the wilderness. Hanuman leaps over mountains and fights off night-crawling demons, all for Rama’s sake. Sugriva enlists his massive monkey army to help Rama rescue Sita from the clutches of Ravana. The female sage Shabari offers Rama and Lakshmana fruits and berries from the wilderness. The wife of the sage Gautama serves simply by feeling the lotus feet of Shri Rama.
Tulsidas serves by composing wonderful poetry and song in praise of Rama. His works stand the test of time, and they are some of the most popular compositions in the history of the civilized world. If Rama were cruel and strict, He would not allow such diversity. In the neophyte understanding of God, the person thinks that the Lord is a mean person who looks to punish the sinners. In truth, the punishment is automatic, coming through the laws of nature. Rama is always blissful; He has no need to punish anyone to make Himself happy.
As Rama is so benevolent, Tulsidas wonders why anyone would turn their back on Him. Indeed, this turning of the back is the reason for the living entity’s descent to the material world. Heaven is the upper planetary region, and our present location is lower because of the pervasive lack of God consciousness. Ascent to the original home occurs through bhakti-yoga, and the object of that service is so kind that He accepts anything the devotee is willing to offer. He advises Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita to take whatever one does and make an offering out of it.
yat karoṣi yad aśnāsiyaj juhoṣi dadāsi yatyat tapasyasi kaunteyatat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam
“O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 9.27)
Rama is so kind that just chanting the holy names on a regular basis pleases Him. If one so desires, they can spend their whole life chanting these names and Rama will provide the facility to do so. He will personally intervene to create the conditions necessary for always saying and hearing Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Do whatever it is you prefer,
With love to Rama then offer.
Limited in this area you’re not,
Chance for service all have got.
Why then on Him back to turn?
With His favor liberation to earn.
Though bhakti to the end bringing,
Endless activity, Rama’s glories singing.
Categories: dohavali 41-80