“Let me go to hell or have the child of the four rewards devoured by a witch. Let all other fruits be burned, but Tulsi will still have love for Shri Rama.” (Dohavali, 92)
parauṃ naraka phala cāri sisu mīca dākinī khāu |
tulasī rāma saneha ko jo phala so jari jāu ||
Known as kala in Sanskrit, time can be compared to a raging fire that consumes everything. There is the saying that time heals all wounds. The idea is that whatever bad situation exists at present, with enough moments going by, things will change. That is the nature of a material existence. The winner today is the loser tomorrow. The memory of the heartbreaking defeat is erased through a thrilling victory in the future. Death follows birth, and after death there is another birth.
As time continues to move into the infinite future, results accrued through pious or impious deeds must be temporary. In Vedic culture there are four primary rewards for a human being. They are often referred to as the four fruits: dharma, artha, kama and moksha.
Dharma is religiosity, behaving piously and the like. The benefit here is not difficult to understand. If we do things in a proper way, we get the intended result. Dharma can be something as simple as adhering to stop signs and not going through an intersection when the light is red. It can be as complicated as performing prescribed rituals at the appropriate time and place.
Artha is profit from work. An extension of the translation is “economic development.” Basically, have enough to survive. If engaged in farming, make sure to get a sufficient yield, an amount to maintain the body. If running a business, make sure it is profitable.
Kama is sense gratification, i.e. what is done with the results of work. Artha produces fruits, and kama is the way to enjoy them. Every person wants to enjoy. This is the very essence of living. Nobody wants to suffer. If they accept hardships intentionally, there is always an end-goal in mind that involves pleasure.
Moksha is release from the cycle of birth and death. It is liberation, not having to again seek out the four rewards of life. Birth follows death, and with moksha there is no birth. Nevertheless, this reward is still considered material, as it is the negation of the condition in bondage of birth and death.
These four rewards can be burned away with time. It is possible that even after liberation a person has a desire to again enjoy with a personal identity. Punishments can also be burned by time. For adharma the slated consequence is birth on a hellish planet. There the only enjoyment is the hope of temporary relief from the suffering, which is acute.
Goswami Tulsidas compares these rewards to children, and they can be eaten by a witch. One famous witch is described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Known as Putana, she would go through the town of Gokula and kill newborn children. She was looking for one in particular, and when she found Him the effects of her tricks were reversed.
That child was Shri Krishna, who is worshiped by Tulsidas in the form of Shri Rama. The poet says that no matter what happens, whatever fruits come through pious or impious behavior, they can be burned up. It is of no concern to him, since there will always be saneha, or love, for the Supreme Lord.
The poet says this very confidently because he understands the truth. The couplet is a subtle warning to any person who still has their heart set on enjoying in a temporary way. From religious behavior so many good things result. There is compassion, kindness, steadiness of mind, and hopefully peace. Yet those rewards can be eaten by the witch that is time.
Devotion to the Supreme Lord can last forever. It never gets burned up, because Rama is Himself time. Kala is the way the non-devoted understand God. The atheists remain obstinate in their denial of the existence of the Divine, but at the time of death they are forced to submit. They see Rama in a very gruesome form, one that is undefeated.
Meanwhile, the devotees understand that wherever they end up, they will get to practice devotion. This is provided they have love for God, which is the highest form of living. That love is the ultimate objective of all varieties of religion, even if the respective leaders teaching them are unaware.
Goswamiji very well aware,
That more to life is there.
Than fruits commonly known four,
To think wisely asking before.
To witch that is time food to get,
But like Putana into defeat set.
When bhakti, so love seeking instead,
Constant peace, even death not to dread.
Categories: dohavali 81-120