“Tulsi says that the fool who finds worldly pleasures to be sweet like honey considers devotion to Rama to be bland, though it is actually one hundred times sweeter than nectar.” (Dohavali, 83)
tulasī jau lauṁ biṣaya kī mudhā mādhurī mīṭhi |
tau lauṁ sudhā sahastra sama rāma bhagati suṭhi sīṭhi ||83||
Do you know someone who seems to make the wrong choice time after time? Even when the righteous path is obvious, where it is laid out right in front of them, even pointed out to them by a respectable figure – they go in the opposite direction. Instead of earning money by honest means, they’ll cheat and steal to get by. They don’t realize that the same intelligence that goes into cheating can be applied in a righteous endeavor, with superior results and less worry over getting caught.
There is the saying that if you put a bag of excrement in front of a person, they will step in it every time. Goswami Tulsidas makes a similar comparison, but to the material existence as a whole. He references the mudha, which translates to “fool.” The actual meaning is a donkey or an ass. The use of mudha is not accidental. The donkey doesn’t know that it doesn’t have to work so hard in order to eat. It gets paltry rewards dangled in front of it, used as incentive for work. The donkey lacks the intelligence to know that the incentive is worthless, since the same reward can be gotten without having to work so hard.
In the same way the donkey-like human being finds worldly pleasures to be full of taste. To them it is like honey, but they don’t realize that there is a higher taste. The embodiment of the foolish mentality is illicit sex life. The man chases after the woman to have a thrill, and they think the resulting enjoyment is worth the effort. They don’t see all the negative consequences, how satisfying lust only gives rise to more lust. They don’t see the pain and heartache associated with the initial pursuit. Achieving the goal only leads to a new pursuit, and the cycle continues.
Tulsidas says that the mudha finds devotion to Rama to be tasteless. On one side material nature is offering something like a carrot, while on the other there is something like a full buffet featuring the best desserts. The fool thinks that the carrots taste better, even though on the other side there are carrots as well.
Nectar is the sweetest drink known to man, and Tulsidas says that devotion to Rama is one hundred times sweeter than nectar. One can only experience that sweetness if they give up attachment to worldly desires. It’s as if I have one hundred dollars in my hand and someone offers to give me one million dollars. Their lone stipulation is that I relinquish the one hundred dollars first.
The fool won’t make this deal, likely due to skepticism. In religious life they see so much cheating and hypocrisy. They see that institutions are serving the needs of the administrators. They think the leaders are only interested in money, and therefore the message they share must be tainted with the same desires.
Bhakti for Rama is pure. It is not dependent on any institution or what anyone else has to say. It is something experienced on the inside through the linking of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. Shri Rama is God the person. Rama is also Krishna and He is also Vishnu. When His personal form gets hidden behind the transcendental light, He is known only as Brahman, which is seemingly without attributes. In the heart He is the Supersoul, which is a manifestation somewhere in between God the person and God the transcendental light.
The comparison made by Tulsidas appropriately puts bhakti on a level higher than any other kind of religion. The poet is not warning of eternal damnation. He is not promising material enjoyment in the heavenly realm. He is simply saying that there is a much higher taste to be found. That taste is there for the taking, but to be enjoyed fully one must relinquish the taste for worldly objects first.
This is easier said than done, but to get the process going one can chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Creating a routine of this practice provides time for steady concentration, where worldly pleasures automatically take a back seat. The more one chants, the more they experience the taste. The more they get that special thing that is sweeter than nectar, the more they find worldly pleasures to be tasteless. The famous Yamunacharya stated that after following bhakti-yoga he absolutely detested sex life.
“A practical example is given by Shri Yamunacharya, a great saint and devotee, who says: ‘Since my mind has been engaged in the service of the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, and I have been enjoying an ever new transcendental humor, whenever I think of sex life with a woman, my face at once turns from it, and I spit at the thought.’” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 2.60 Purport)
Sex life is the highest worldly pleasure, so such a turnaround can only take place if there is a superior taste. Tulsidas does not keep that taste a secret; he shows the way for any who are wise enough to listen with sincerity and an open-mind. The transformation doesn’t necessarily take place magically, but through the change in tastes one can experience how their consciousness is becoming purer.
Hundred dollar bill in hand one,
Exchange for one million to be done.
Only a fool this offer to reject,
That something to lose to expect.
Though so many things with taste,
Like an ass in material pursuits to waste.
Sweeter than nectar one hundred times,
Only in pure devotion to Rama to find.
Categories: dohavali 81-120