“When you abandon Rama, who is like a desire tree, and instead serve Kali Yuga, which is like a dying tree, your worldly interest, supreme interest, what you want, all your desires – they become like lies.” (Dohavali, 76)
rāma kāmatarū pariharata sevata kali tarū ṭhūm̐ṭha |
svāratha paramāratha cahata sakala manoratha jhūm̐ṭha ||76||
You sacrifice everything for your spouse. If they are angry at you one day for no apparent reason, you let it slide. If they say the meanest things straight to your face, you try not to pay attention. You’re in the relationship to make it work, after all. Despite doing so much for so long, they don’t appreciate you. All they give you is hate. Indeed, they think that you don’t love them, that you’re too selfish.
You sacrifice everything for your dog. You’re so happy when you come home and see it eager to play with you. You take it out for walks and feed it good food. When relaxing on the couch, you invite the dog to come and sit with you. Though you’re wise to not share this information with everyone, sometimes you even sleep with the dog. Despite all of this, one day the dog leaves you. It moves on to the next destination, and you’re left mourning. That is until you get another dog, a replacement.
You sacrifice everything for your favorite sports team. You etch out time in your hectic schedule to watch their games. You wear the team jersey proudly in public. You attend games at visiting stadiums and cheer loudly when your team scores. You tolerate the abuses thrown your way. Then one day you happen to meet one of the players in public. They won’t give you the time of day. Though you know them so well, they don’t know you at all. Your sacrifice means nothing to them.
You sacrifice everything to have a high standard of living. You work so hard to afford and maintain a large home. You always get the latest model of expensive car, and you provide everything for your children. Despite all of this, you’re left unsatisfied. The home can’t talk to you. The car is no different than any other collection of metal and parts. The children think that you’re not giving them enough, that you’re stingy.
These are examples of what Goswami Tulsidas calls service to Kali Yuga. In the darkness of ignorance, the otherwise intelligent spirit soul serves something that is essentially lifeless. Kali Yuga is like a tree that is dying, while the Supreme Lord is like a desire tree, ever ready to shower endless, meaningful gifts to the devotees.
Is the spouse not a life? What about the children you’re supporting? The dog is a life too. How can you compare them to a dead tree?
The mindset is what makes the analogy accurate. Kali Yuga is the last of the four time periods beginning from when the land was last populated. Think of creation and destruction in cycles, with larger creations and destructions on top of them; sort of a hierarchical structure. You have the universe and its planets, and then you have the population within each planet. A single yuga is the timespan from when the creatures first appear to when they disappear. Many of these single yugas taken together is the time period between the manifestation of the universe and its dissolution.
The single yuga is divided into four time periods, which are also known as yugas. Confused yet? To simplify we can say that Kali Yuga is the age of quarrel and hypocrisy. Man has potential for great intelligence, which we can see from modern technological advancements alone. Yet in Kali Yuga he remains in the dark to his true nature, that of spirit soul. He gives service to matter, which is dull and lifeless.
Service to the spouse is service to the body of that spouse only. The same goes for service to the dog, the nation, the community, and so forth. Tulsidas recommends service to Rama, who is God. Rama is compared to a desire tree. He is full of life, always in bloom. The fruits on this tree are whatever the mind desires.
The mention of Rama is important. Service to the generic God does not yield the same benefit. This is because the mind will still be focused on the material. It will think they are serving God, when in fact they are still in front of the lifeless tree that is Kali Yuga. They might even do all sorts of horrible things in the name of religion.
Service to Rama is service to God the person. Rama is not His lone spiritual manifestation. He appears as Krishna and Vishnu as well. The personal forms are like desire trees and the devotees who serve them eventually have only one desire: continued service. Because of this, their svartha and paramartha merge. Their present interest becomes identical to their future interest. Every want is satisfied; all their desires are met.
Rama can provide for the material. He does this for the devotee when necessary. If they need money to continue in service, they get it. If they require renunciation, then as Hari the Supreme Lord takes everything away. If they need ability in writing, speaking or working, they get it. Whatever they want for their devotion, Rama gives to them.
Unlike with Kali Yuga, service to Rama is rewarding. If you get a fruit from the kalpa-taru, nothing is deducted; the balance sheet remains the same. Another fruit emerges right away. Service to the material energy is always limiting, and therefore the servant remains constantly in want. The living force that is the spirit soul is meant to serve the being who is the most full of life, Shri Rama.
Foolish when in service giving,
To something not close to living.
When to lifeless matter done,
Nothing tangible to come.
Through Rama every desire to reap,
His vision in your mind keep.
The personal God the superior one,
Service to Him, an equal to it none.
Categories: dohavali 41-80