“You should either love Rama with all your heart or act in ways that you become dear to the Lord. Tulsi says that whichever route is preferred and is easier, you should choose.” (Dohavali, 78)
kai tohi lāgahiṁ rāma priya kai tū prabhu priya hohi |
du’i meṁ rūcai jo sugama so kībe tulasī tohi ||78||
Which path is better? Should you try for good traits? Or should you try to serve God directly, not caring so much about your behavior? After all, in the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that even if a devotee commits the most abominable act, they are to be considered saintly. This is because eventually they correct their ways. The misbehavior is accidental, a residual effect of having spent many years in the sinful consciousness.
api cet su-durācāro
bhajate mām ananya-bhāk
sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ
samyag vyavasito hi saḥ
“Even if one commits the most abominable actions, if he is engaged in devotional service, he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.30)
The ultimate authority that is the Gita lists the good qualities for us; there is no need to speculate. Yet it is not difficult to reach the same conclusion. At the foundation of every good quality is detachment from personal interest. We praise the philanthropist because they’re spending some of their money for helping others. They’re not so focused on getting an expensive car; at least this is the image they show to the public. We appreciate the mother who sacrifices so much for her children because she is not so concerned with buying expensive clothes or filling her closet with different pairs of shoes.
Goswami Tulsidas mentions both options in this verse from the Dohavali. He advises to choose whichever one is preferred, as he knows that eventually one will lead to the other. We have already mentioned how the devotee is considered saintly even if they slip up now and then. This means that while serving God in a mood of love, they are automatically dear to Him.
The truth as it pertains to the other side is not so obvious. Shri Krishna is the same Rama mentioned by Tulsidas. The Vedic tradition is monotheistic, though it features many divine personalities. One can find colorful artwork and finely crafted statues depicting these famous personalities, who are also known as devas. Despite the variety in worship, there is still a singular source to everything. He manifests in different ways, including in personal forms. Krishna and Rama are the same one God, and there are many other divine personalities who serve that one Lord.
Krishna says that the person who is equal in both good times and bad is dear to Him. One day you are a champion and the next you are a failure. Today you are enjoying with friends and family and tomorrow you are all alone. It is wise to remain steady in both, as the conditions in this world are ever changing. We know this from the guaranteed arrival of death. As soon as we take birth, death will arrive. Therefore why should a person lament over loss, since they know it is bound to happen? And why should they go crazy in jubilation over good fortune, as they know that too will dissipate?
yasmān nodvijate loko
lokān nodvijate ca yaḥ
mukto yaḥ sa ca me priyaḥ
“He for whom no one is put into difficulty and who is not disturbed by anxiety, who is steady in happiness and distress, is very dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.15)
If you are detached, kind to every living entity, and don’t put others into difficulty, you become dear to God. This is important, as even if you are not serving Him directly He will assure your success. That coveted position may not arrive until the distant future, such as in a subsequent life. There is the famous King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. In his past life he was extremely pious. He performed the Satyanarayana Vrata, which is a monthly observance of the Vedic tradition. It is a way to become dear to God; it is not direct service to Him. We hear that the famous Sudama Vipra also performed the same ritual.
In the subsequent birth Dasharatha received the Supreme Lord as his son. Though the king remained pious and full of good qualities, his enjoyment increased because of the path of love and devotion. His example shows how the paths merge. The same held for Sudama, who in his next life became a dear friend to Krishna. The two attended the same school as youths, and they served their guru very well. Krishna is the original guru, the first teacher known to man. Still, He shows the proper example by accepting a spiritual master during His time on earth as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva.
“My dear friend, you may remember that many such incidents occurred while we were in the ashrama of our spiritual master. Both of us can realize that without the blessings of the spiritual master no one can be happy. By the mercy of the spiritual master and by his blessings, one can achieve peace and prosperity and be able to fulfill the mission of human life.” (Krishna speaking to Sudama, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 25)
In this age of Kali, the path of detachment and following regulative principles is very difficult to follow. Dharma, or virtue, has only one of its four original legs remaining. Therefore the wise souls recommend devotion to God directly. Even if a person is from a sinful background, if they are sincere then all good things will come to them. Tulsidas embodied this devotion through his prolific writing and sharing of the glories of the Supreme Lord Rama.
Work in way to make yourself dear,
To Supreme Lord, path to perfection cleared.
Mercy by Krishna Himself extended,
Though bhakti path by wise recommended.
For benefit existing the paths two,
If surrender too difficult for you.
With one leg only is dharma today,
So superior is the pure devotion way.
Categories: dohavali 41-80