“With folded hands Tulsi asks Lord Shiva for the blessing that birth after birth he belong only to Rama, be related to Him, have love for Him and receive love from Him.” (Dohavali, 89)
nāto nāte rāma ke rāma sanehum̐ sanehu |
tulasī mām̐gata jori kara janama janama siva dehu ||89||
If you invent something great, it can have lasting importance. As a simple example, if in a rural town you build a well, it can help the people for a long time. Not only your contemporaries, but future generations also will use the well to get water. People who may never know about you, completely unaware of your gift to the community they will continue to reap the benefits. Here Goswami Tulsidas asks for a boon to last birth after birth, and the person he approaches has a special way of delivering.
How do I connect the present to the past? How about the future to the present? Is there a way to maintain something through time? Obviously a physical object will do. If I have a thought right now, I can jot it down on a piece of paper. If I consult that paper many years down the line, it is my way of connecting to the past. The words alone can bring me back.
Lord Shiva does something similar. He speaks of the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Rama. The person hearing is his beautiful and chaste wife Parvati. She is an attentive listener, making Shiva all the more eager to continue speaking. She asks intelligent questions when there are any doubts, and her husband is more than happy to explain things until there is clarity.
That conversation then gets passed on in the system of disciplic succession. In that chain a most capable writer appears, who shares the same love for Shri Rama. That writer then decides to show respect to the original conversation in the best way he can. He crafts a lengthy poem in the language of the people of his time. That poem is so popular that it gets commonly mistaken for the original accounts of Shri Rama’s life in this world, penned in ancient times by the ascetic Valmiki.
The poet we speak of is Goswami Tulsidas, whose prayer to Lord Shiva is referenced above. Tulsidas asks to have love for the Supreme Lord in birth after birth. He wants a few other related things. He asks that he receive love back from Rama, i.e. God’s mercy. He wants his main relation to be with Rama and for Rama to consider him His. Lord Shiva can deliver these most important things, and so the poet approaches with folded hands.
The irony is that Tulsidas himself delivers this boon to countless generations. The people living in his time could access his Ramacharitamanasa and develop love for Rama. The Vedas are also known as the shrutis, which means “that which is heard.” Simply by hearing of the glories of God one can develop love for Him. Hearing about Rama is important because it gives more details into the nature of the Supreme Lord. God the person is easier to understand than God the bright light. God roaming the earth with a bow and arrow set, ready to protect the innocent, makes more sense than God the old man, sitting in the sky, angrily waiting to dole out punishment to the sinners.
Hearing is also known as shravanam in Sanskrit. This is one of the nine methods of bhakti-yoga, which is the explicit practice of devotion to God the person. In the beginning you practice love and devotion, and eventually it becomes who you are. Any of the nine methods is sufficient for making the transformation. Hearing is the simplest, and it doesn’t require much. Just sacrifice some time. Take a seat with the great god, Mahadeva, and hear from him in great detail about both the objective, God, and the means for achieving Him.
The prayer of Tulsidas is also a way to tell if the transformation has been completed. The basic question is, “What do you want?” Is it material rewards? Do you want money? Do you want fame? Even in religious life, there can be impure devotion. Do you want to be as opulent as God, free from the pangs of a material existence? Do you want to merge into the attributeless light of Truth that is Brahman? Do you want mystic power?
If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, pure devotion has not yet been reached. If all you want is relations with God, where you can love Him and receive His mercy back, then you are completely pure. You have rescued yourself for birth after birth. You have also rescued the past generations in your family. The Supreme Lord Himself gave validation on this issue when speaking to the great devotee Prahlada Maharaja.
Through your devotion you can rescue future generations as well. This is the power of love, the true definition of it. Though Mahadeva grants boons to materialistic worshipers, he can grant liberation as well. He does this more subtly. To those who die in his sacred city of Kashi, he whispers the name of Rama in their ear. To those who take birth again in the material world, for whatever reason, he passes down his conversation to Parvati about Rama. Thus Mahadeva’s true mercy is reserved for those who pray like Tulsidas.
Gift now for others to give,
But how in future with benefit to live?
Example of Mahadeva take,
How rescuing boat for others to make.
Just a conversation had with wife,
Discussing bhakti to Rama, meaning of life.
Tulsidas in the same line descending,
Shiva’s mercy to population extending.
Categories: dohavali 81-120