Protector of Koshala

[Rama's bow]“Whether I am ordinary or not, I am only yours, O protector of Koshala. If this is true then Tulsi’s welfare is assured in all three worlds and three time periods.” (Dohavali, 84)

jaiseā mero rāvaro kevala kosalapāla |
tau tulasī ko hai bhalo tihūm̐ loka tihum̐ kāla ||84||

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Tulsidas here addresses the Supreme Lord as Koshalapala. This means “the protector of Koshala.” Koshala is a land on earth made famous through the Supreme Lord and the ancestors of the Raghu dynasty, the family in which Rama appeared. Just as you need an alarm system to protect a store containing valuables during the nighttime, you need a powerful figure to ward off attacking enemies trying to infiltrate an important land. During ancient times Koshala featured very pious people, who thus required a brave, capable and always ready leader to maintain that quality.

śauryaṁ tejo dhṛtir dākṣyaṁ

yuddhe cāpy apalāyanam

dānam īśvara-bhāvaś ca

kṣātraṁ karma svabhāva-jam

“Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity, and leadership are the qualities of work for the kshatriyas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.43)

The Sanskrit word for someone who protects in this way is “kshatriya.” Studying the root meaning to the terms that make up the word we get the definition of “to protect from injury.” There is much more to the kshatriya culture than just defense. In the Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Lord lists the necessary qualities. Yet the spirit can be found in any person, regardless of their familiarity with Vedic culture. There are brave heroes in all lands, people who risk their lives whenever called upon. The quality common amongst them is that they don’t get distressed in troubling situations.

It is not surprising, therefore, that when the Supreme descends to earth in a visible form He often accepts the role of kshatriya. He is in fact everything to everyone. There is the saying that you can’t be all things to all people. It’s difficult to be a good employee, a good husband, and a good father at the same time. As human beings we are limited.

God is unlimited, ananta. Therefore He can actually do everything for everyone. He can be the wise brahmana who imparts wisdom specific to each class of man. He can protect the cows and support agriculture. He can do any menial task asked of Him. When He appeared on earth as Shri Krishna, during His childhood He would do whatever the mothers of the town of Vrindavana would ask of Him. He would sometimes fetch His father’s slippers.

bibharti kvacid ājñaptaḥ

pīṭhakonmāna-pādukam

bāhu-kṣepaṁ ca kurute

svānāṁ ca prītim āvahan

“Sometimes mother Yashoda and her gopi friends would tell Krishna, ‘Bring this article’ or ‘Bring that article.’ Sometimes they would order Him to bring a wooden plank, wooden shoes or a wooden measuring pot, and Krishna, when thus ordered by the mothers, would try to bring them. Sometimes, however, as if unable to raise these things, He would touch them and stand there. Just to invite the pleasure of His relatives, He would strike His body with His arms to show that He had sufficient strength.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.8)

[Krishna with Nanda's slippers]Shri Rama plays the role of kshatriya. He takes it upon Himself to protect those who seek His help. It is no mistake that Tulsidas references this aspect of the Supreme Lord in the Dohavali verse quoted above. The great poet knows that reputation is a variable, not a constant. Some people will like you and others won’t. There is nothing that can be done about it.

Tulsidas says that whether he is ordinary or not, he accepts the shelter of the protector of Koshala. He has dedicated thought, word and deed to the Supreme Lord. As such, Rama will stand by holding His bow and arrow no matter where the poet goes. Tulsidas could end up anywhere in the vast land that the three worlds cover. There is heaven, hell and the earthly region. Just as we can choose which city or country we want to live in, so the spirit soul, as part of the transmigration process, can end up practically anywhere.

The destinations change through the workings of time. Time has three aspects: past, present and future. Rama protects the devotee in all time periods. How does He correct the past? This one seems a little odd. Does Rama have a time machine? Actually, through devotional service, bhakti-yoga, the past gets purified. When we were in school we likely complained about the content in class. “When am I ever going to need to know this stuff? I can’t see the value in learning this?” Sometimes the benefit comes many years later.

When a person finds the shelter of the protector of Koshala, it means that their past has led them to this ultimate destination. Therefore the past gets protected. The present becomes blissful, seen in one way through the poet’s detachment. To not be so concerned with what others think of you is difficult to do; it’s an advantage. Rama protects the future as well, as with the passage of time the spirit soul eventually moves on to another body.

Rama ensures that time and circumstance are favorable for the devotee. The material nature is the other shelter. This isn’t as kind. It doesn’t protect anything; rather it only destroys. As soon as you get something, you must separate from it at some point in the future. The past might be your only sanctuary after a while. There is the saying that every saint has a past and every sinner a future. This references how things are always changing. You’re never guaranteed favorable circumstances.

[Lord Rama]The lone exception is devotional service, which Tulsidas practices through glorifying the Supreme Lord. The process is so easy. Success does not rely on the reception. Whether the whole world appreciates you or not, the protector of Koshala will always be favorable. The devotees are so dear to Him, and for that reason they are protected in all three worlds and all three time periods.

In Closing:

In whichever world to see,

And considering time periods three.

Even your past is cured,

And future assured.

Through bhakti only can this come,

To have concern over reputation none.

Tulsidas from Koshala’s Lord shelter taking,

Rama auspiciousness for the devotee making.



Categories: dohavali 81-120

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