“Just as within the earth are found every kind of seed and within the sky live all the stars, Tulsidas knows that Shri Rama’s holy name is the reservoir of all dharma.” (Dohavali, 29)
Friend1: Dharma is one.
Friend1: Why qualify it? Isn’t dharma an essential characteristic?
Friend1: And isn’t the essential characteristic of the essential functioning unit of life, the soul, one? I mean to say that dharma doesn’t change from one person to the next.
Friend2: That is true, as well.
Friend1: Then why did you use the word “ultimately.”
Friend2: Well, think about it. Dharma is an essential characteristic. There are many objects in this world. There are also many objectives. Dharma applies across the entire spectrum.
Friend1: So you qualified the statement because eventually there is only one goal: service to the Divine?
Friend2: The rest is temporary, including the body, which is like a place of residence. Meeting the objectives can help the process along. If the results are achieved, they still don’t remain manifest forever. The dharma of the spirit soul never changes.
Friend1: Okay, the reason I’m asking is because I’ve heard something to the effect that chanting the holy names satisfies all dharmas.
Friend2: Yes, there is the verse from the Dohavali of Goswami Tulsidas. He compares the holy name of Rama to the earth and the sky. Within the sky you find all the stars. Within the earth are the seeds necessary to produce food. Food and stars are important, but not as much as the source. Moreover, once you have the earth, you have all the seeds. The same can’t be said in the reverse.
Friend1: Alright, that is a handful to digest. You’ve “planted” quite a lot there.
Friend2: Nice pun.
Friend1: I try. I guess people would request further explanation. How can something simple like a sound vibration be the same as following different ways of life, procedures, rules, regulations, and the like?
Friend2: Well, think about the different dharmas. There is the dharma for the priestly class. There are the rules and regulations that give meaning to the warrior designation, kshatriya. There are dharmas for different stages of life, such as student, married, and renounced.
Friend2: Each one of those dharmas has an accompanying objective. That is why those dharmas exist. There are qualities that come about, like jnana and vairagya.
Friend1: Knowledge and renunciation, which help in progress in spiritual life.
Friend2: Yes, and only in the human species can you get these two things.
Friend1: Are you saying that chanting the holy names brings jnana and vairagya?
Friend2: Absolutely. And to the necessary level; not something extreme just for the sake of gaining fame and attention from an adoring public. Knowledge is embedded in the sacred sound that represents the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Friend1: But knowledge of what?
Friend2: Of what you actually need to know, namely that God is an all-attractive person, separate and distinct from us, but at the same time similar in many ways. It brings knowledge that God the person has different forms and expansions and that the highest living is being constantly engaged in His service.
Friend1: You get all that from a name like Rama or Krishna?
Friend2: Eventually. If you chant the maha-mantra enough: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. You get vairagya automatically by making a routine of chanting. While you are chanting, you are not engaging in harmful activities like meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex. You are hopefully curbing material desires.
Friend1: What if the chanting is done impurely?
Friend2: Then keep chanting. Keep hearing the holy name. Eventually purification will come, and once it does you’ll never look back.
Friend1: Alright, but what about the dharmas geared towards the management of society? For instance, how is the holy name going to satisfy the duties of the warrior or the businessman?
Friend2: You can think of those dharmas as a way to stay occupied. Basically, work in a manner that matches your material qualities, gunas. Follow the dharma that corresponds to your nature, and thus remove the guesswork. Be no more in doubt, and at the same time become renounced from the outcome. That is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita.
“You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.47)
Friend1: Yes, I get it. Do your duty, but don’t be attached to the results. These people are doing their duty, though. If they are attached to the holy name, how will that satisfy their dharma?
Friend2: As I mentioned before, knowledge and renunciation appear simultaneously. Moreover, it is not like everything else is automatically abandoned. A God conscious warrior is better than an ordinary one. The successful businessman can use their wealth to help the mission of God consciousness, thereby increasing the scope of hearing for the holy name. Remember, essentially the same truth was told to Arjuna at the conclusion of his famous discussion with Shri Krishna. Abandon everything and follow Krishna in bhakti. There won’t be any sinful reaction, meaning that the responsibilities coming from other forms of dharma are automatically satisfied.
Following duty vairagya to come,
Doing work, but with attachments none.
Knowledge also from the goal meeting,
But separate endeavor not needing.
Know that dharmas in holy name seated,
So powerful when that sound repeated.
Like Arjuna in bhakti but still proceeding,
Devotion no excuse for justice conceding.