“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||
In the water the fish sees something that appears to be palatable. Their eyes are focused on it. It looks innocent enough. Yet the fish doesn’t realize that this is bait, something intentionally dropped into the water by a fisherman. The bait is nothing more than a trap, meant to lure in the unsuspecting. This is but one example of vishaya, or worldly pleasures. In fact, all living entities are born into delusion, bewildered by the dualities of desire and hate. Because of this, every enjoyment they seek is similar to the trap, forcing them to take rebirth. The wise person chooses love and devotion to God the person instead.
sarge yānti parantapa
“O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.27)
If we are born into delusion, how are we supposed to find the proper path? If everything we’re after is like a trap, how do we tread safely? The person who falls into such traps is known as a mudha, or an ass. This is an appropriate comparison since the donkey doesn’t know any better. If it did, it wouldn’t work so hard. The human being behaves similarly, even though they think they are independent. They voluntarily travel hours to the office each day, to sit in a tiny room and work so hard. They are so stressed when they get home that all they can think about is getting intoxicated and then sleeping the buzz off.
Fortunately, the human being has an advantage over the fish and the donkey. There is birth for all species. In the Vedic tradition, the first birth doesn’t get so much importance. We celebrate on our birthday, but everyone else was born on a particular day also. Today is someone’s birthday, so this means that today isn’t really that different from yesterday or tomorrow.
The human being has the chance for something called the second birth. This comes from meeting and accepting a spiritual guide. The guide shows the proper path, with the first steps dealing with vishaya. The student is taught to steer clear of worldly pleasures. Not that a person should go without food and sleep, but they should limit them. They should keep everything in moderation.
nāty-aśnatas ‘tu yogo ‘sti
na caikāntam anaśnataḥ
jāgrato naiva cārjuna
“There is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.16)
We enter this world as mudhas, or fools. Because of this we think that worldly pleasures are full of taste. Tulsidas compares the taste to honey, which is sweet. The mudhas don’t realize that there is a much higher taste, something one hundred times sweeter than nectar. The guru shows the disciple how to both find and relish this taste.
Bhakti-rasa is one translation. This means the taste of pure devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Tulsidas worships God as Rama. Rama is both a personality and a description for the Almighty’s features. Rama means one who possesses transcendental pleasure. One who worships Rama properly gets to taste that pleasure, but the difficulty is in finding Him. Ensnared by the trap of maya, or illusion, one thinks that there is no God. They consider religion to be needless torture, something reserved for the less intelligent.
Spiritual life is for getting a higher taste. It is not merely for enjoying in the afterlife. It is not for standing above others and pointing the finger at them for their sinful ways. It is for enjoying something that is beyond description. This taste can only be experienced in full when one loses their taste for worldly pleasures.
In the modern age, the bona fide spiritual guide recommends the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This takes care of both sides. Chanting the holy names is a kind of austerity, especially when done as a routine. If you are chanting and hearing, then you are not engaged in sense gratification. This mantra has the names of Rama and Krishna in it, which are full of taste. Therefore through steady chanting attachment develops. Through the shelter of the holy name given by the benevolent spiritual master, the mudha transforms into a wise person who properly identifies what is full of taste and what isn’t.
As food the fish considering bait,
Not knowing trap with fisherman to wait.
Vishaya like everything in world of ours,
Like an enemy future hopes devours.
Only human species chance to be free,
With second birth, higher taste to see.
Chant holy names, attack on vishaya deploy,
At same time sweetness of bhakti enjoy.
Categories: dohavali 81-120