“People say that Tulsidas is a treasure of bad qualities. But I know that I have one good quality – full faith in you, Shri Rama. This alone should ensure that you are satisfied with me.” (Dohavali, 85)
hai tulasī keṁ eka guna avaguna nidhi kahaiṁ loga |
bhalp bharoso rāvaro rāma rījhibe joga ||85||
Repeating a mantra over and over again under your breath: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Bowing down in front of a small statue, bringing flowers before it, having tears touch your cheeks after gazing upon it for hours. Living a simple life, without many possessions. Abstaining from meat eating, gambling, intoxication, and illicit sex. Reciting Sanskrit verses from memory and speaking only of the glories of someone who roamed this earth thousands of years ago.
To the uninitiated, all this seems crazy.
Why would anyone do this? Have they lost their mind? They must be lost in this world, without a purpose. Otherwise they would choose the traditional path of school, work, marriage, family, and retirement. In between they would seek the traditional, safe outlets for fun and enjoyment, like vacation, alcohol, fancy cars, night clubs, and recreational activities. To give up everything on a hope and a prayer seems silly. After all, there is no guarantee that everything will end up okay with faith in a higher being, a person whose identity cannot be validated by sight.
Yet Goswami Tulsidas still has full confidence. Even if the entire world says bad things about him, he will not budge. He knows that he has at least one good quality. He has full faith in Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord. Tulsidas is not hoping that Rama is God. He is not praying for a better future or to be absolved of sin. He is not expecting things to dramatically change from his present condition. He knows that Rama takes care of His devotee, turning all three time periods auspicious.
From where does the poet’s confidence come? The taste of devotion, bhakti-rasa, gives the proof. Sight is not a requirement in self-realization. After all, we mistake a rope for a snake. During childhood there is a pile of toys in one room, a result of losing interest in each toy a short time after getting it. In adulthood the practice is the same, though the toys are a lot bigger and more expensive. Every person is chasing after that higher taste, but only in devotion to God the person is it found.
Tulsidas also gets confidence from history. As documented in the Ramayana, there was once a famous king who ruled over Lanka. He was feared throughout the world. Though there weren’t gasoline powered automobiles in his land, no enjoyment was lacking. The buildings were made of gold. There were many queens living in the royal palace. There was a plethora of animal flesh available to eat and wine to drink.
The king had family around as well, which included brothers. Who wouldn’t be happy living in such luxury? One brother was not affected either way. His name was Vibhishana, and he had good qualities from the time of his birth. He didn’t like the path his elder brother Ravana was on. Though Ravana was the king and thus to be respected, Vibhishana was still compassionate towards him. Vibhishana wanted his brother to also follow the righteous path.
Eventually Vibhishana reached a breaking point. He could not tolerate the offenses Ravana had committed against the princess of Videha and the protector of Koshala. Vibhishana made his complaints be known, in a respectful way. Everyone thought he was crazy. Ravana called him a traitor. Vibhishana had done nothing wrong, but in comparison to his peers he was quite different. He was an oddball. Next, he did the only thing he knew to be sane.
He took shelter of the same Rama worshiped by Tulsidas. Vibhishana had full faith in Rama, who was ready to attack Ravana to get back His wife, Sita Devi. Based on external vision, Rama looked like the weaker party. Ravana had stolen Sita through a ruse created in the forest. Why was Rama living in the forest? Didn’t that mean He was poor? Just as the devotee gets protection in all time periods and all situations, so the Supreme Lord is the most powerful person regardless of where He sets His lotus feet.
The trust in Rama would pay off. Not that Vibhishana wanted anything bad to happen to his family members. He just knew the right course of action. The rest took care of itself. Ravana and his men would be vanquished in battle, and Vibhishana would become the new king. The one person who actually wasn’t crazy ended up witnessing the consequences to the genuine craziness of his peers, his countrymen, and especially his elder brother.
Though to Ravana younger brother oddball,
Lanka’s king actually craziest of them all.
Though regular sense gratification coming,
More implicated in sinful life becoming.
Vibhishana watching brother’s fortunes sink,
Left for Rama, not caring what others to think.
From that example full confidence take,
Worship Lord and from slumber awake.
Categories: dohavali 81-120