“The wise who have wanted to know have understood that all regulative principles are meant to lead to one result – having Shri Rama standing in the temple of the mind, holding His bow and arrow.” (Dohavali, 90)
saba sādhana ko eka phala jehiṁ jān’yo so jāna |
jyoṁ tyoṁ mana mandira basahiṁ rāma dhareṁ dhanu bāna ||90||
“Take two of these and call me in the morning.” This is the famous directive of the doctor offered to the sick patient. There is no explanation needed. Though the white coat and the sterile office setting suffice for authenticity, there is the medical license displayed on the wall to further ease the mind of the worried patient. In so many things in life it is better to simply take the prescription. Don’t ask too many questions, especially when the objective is clear. In this verse from the Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas says that there is an answer for the person seeking the purpose behind the many regulative principles of the Vedic tradition.
That tradition is often known as Hinduism, and if one were to answer what kinds of rituals there are, it would be a difficult task. If someone were to ask about the holidays in Christianity, then Christmas, Easter, Good Friday, and a few other days quickly come to mind. For Islam there are Ramadan and Eid. Children in the public education system in America are well aware of the Jewish holidays.
In Hinduism the answer is, “It depends.” On what? There are holidays by region. In some households the wives fast for an entire day sometime in August. They do this to bring auspiciousness to their husbands. In some areas the people observe a specific ritual for nine days in order to please the divine lady in charge of the material nature. Since that nature is difficult to overcome, one of her names is Durga.
There are the more commonly observed holidays of Diwali and Holi, but even with these there is nuance. Some people celebrate Diwali as the homecoming of Shri Rama, the Personality of Godhead mentioned by Tulsidas above. Others remember something different on Diwali. Holi, too, is significant for different reasons.
To observe these rituals is a good thing. It represents the beginning of the separation between man and animal. Normally, we think that man already has the upper hand, but in fact if they use their advanced intelligence only for sleeping, mating, eating and defending, they are really no better than the animal. It is for this reason that in the Vedic tradition a second birth is recommended for the human being.
“One birth is calculated during the seed-giving samskara, and the second birth is calculated at the time of spiritual initiation. One who has been able to undergo such important samskaras can be called a bona fide twice-born.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.4.25 Purport)
Let’s say that we get the second birth by accepting a spiritual master. For this example, we’ll assume that he is of the Vaishnava tradition. He worships God as a person. He is not interested in merely an abstract. So he gives various recommendations. Don’t eat meat. This builds compassion. Don’t take intoxicants and don’t engage in illicit sex. Austerity and cleanliness follow. By not gambling you’ll create honesty.
The Vaishnava guru says to chant the holy names a set number of times each day on a string of beads. He says to associate with like-minded people, who are following the orders of their bona fide guru. The spiritual master says to fast from grains and beans on certain days, to try to wake up at a certain time each day, to sacrifice as much time as possible to reading important Vedic texts like the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam, and to be steady in this service.
But what is the purpose? What if we have questions? What if we’re not interested in merely following? What will all of this get me? This can be asked with regards to any recommendation in religion. Tulsidas references people who were seeking such knowledge and then found it. He doesn’t come up with the answer on his own. He says that the purpose to all sadhana, or steady practice in spirituality, is to make the mind a temple. In this temple the Supreme Lord Rama is worshiped. Who is Rama? He is the personal God in the beautiful form of a warrior prince who holds a bow and arrow.
Is this really the purpose? Why not say so at the outset? Wouldn’t that be easier?
The guru may indeed reveal this detail in the beginning. After all, the Dohavali was not kept secret somewhere. It is a published work distributed by Tulsidas during the medieval period in India. The reason sadhana is stressed at the beginning is that it is very difficult to make the mind so pure. It’s not easy to constantly remember God. It’s not easy to think of Him as a person. To the uninitiated the sound of the name Rama brings Hinduism to mind. “I have my God, and you have yours.”
But God can only be one. Rama is not His only form, but if there is going to be legitimate worship in the mind, then the object of worship must be a person. It cannot be an abstract. You can try to worship air or a piece of wood, but the process won’t last very long. There won’t be any tangible benefit, either. If you worship Rama then you find all happiness. You learn the hidden meaning behind sadhana. You understand how all religions have the same purpose, to love God.
Legitimate religions with purpose the same,
Love the one God, having many a name.
Sadhana, varied though with singular aim,
Vision of Him, like of Rama the name.
Who with bow and arrows projecting,
Security of devotees protecting.
In beginning not easily discerned,
Through practice eventually learned.
Categories: dohavali 81-120