“Something can only be known when an attempt to know is made. Otherwise, how to know? Hearing this, Tulsi says to call Shri Rama, holding bow and arrow, to your heart to understand Him.” (Dohavali, 98)
jāneṃ jānana joiai binu jāne ko jāna |
tulasī yaha suni samujhi hiya’ ānu dhareṃ dhanu bāna ||
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that one of the purposes of pious activities is for avoiding becoming an atheist. In addition to gaining a positive, active engagement, wisdom is slowly acquired. Without these activities, once bad fortune arrives it is easier to conclude, erroneously so, that there is no supreme controller.
“Without pious activities, if a man is in a distressed condition he becomes an agnostic, communist or something like that. Because he does not firmly believe in God, he thinks that he can adjust his distressed condition by totally disbelieving in Him.” (The Nectar Of Devotion, Ch 3)
It starts with a desire. There is something that I want. In order to get it, I give the required effort. I go above and beyond, too. What is the end result? Sometimes people succeed; of this there is no doubt. In this case I failed. The sting is too much for me to take. I start to wonder:
“How can there be a God? He wouldn’t allow this to happen. Forget my personal failure for a moment. What about everyone else that suffers? There’s no way that He exists. He must be fantasy, in the category of the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.”
In the above referenced verse from the Dohavali, the opinion of Goswami Tulsidas presents a truth that is rather obvious, but often overlooked. In the task of trying to know something, an effort must be made. How did I learn what water was? A fish doesn’t know, even though it can’t live outside of it. Other animals can distinguish water from land, but it is not like they know what to call the substances.
The human being has the highest potential for intelligence, and from the initial quest knowledge increases. Someone taught us about water, though we also studied for ourselves. If I want to buy a new television, I don’t expect it to just fall in my lap. Neither can I guarantee that any random purchase will satisfy my desires.
There is research. Read reviews. Compare specifications. Become familiar with the industry to some extent. Then make an educated decision. We don’t simply condemn the unknown to forever remain that way.
Tulsidas says that to know the Supreme Lord first call Him to your heart. The form of choice is the one holding a bow and arrow. This is Shri Rama, the hero of the Ramayana. He is the husband of Sita Devi, the goddess of fortune. He is the elder brother of Lakshmana and the one served lovingly by Shri Hanuman.
Such facts and more are known about Rama through the chance encounter with the saintly person. Tulsidas is one such person, and so he freely offers this advice. The idea is that we can’t know God on our own. The only way is through the descending process, where knowledge is passed down through the generations. Since it is the most valuable knowledge, it is treated with respect and care. The sadhu does not share the wisdom of the ages with just any person.
The person carrying the knowledge looks for others who are interested. Only then will they have the chance to understand. If they are mired in fruitive activities and behavior that will keep them bound to the cycle of birth and death, of what use will the image of Shri Rama be?
On the other hand, if they are sincerely inquisitive, wanting to know why things happen the way they do, then there is the chance the meeting with the Supreme Lord will do good. In fact, any person keeping the image of Rama holding the bow and arrow close to them will be benefitted.
Pious activities increase the benefits. Otherwise the mind will move on to something else. That sacred image will soon leave the heart, though God is always close by. He is with both the sinner and the saint. The difference is that the former doesn’t take advantage of His presence, while the latter does.
To see standing beautifully with bow,
First desire must be to know.
Only then proper understanding to come,
Otherwise wandering with direction none.
So from saintly person getting the chance,
From knowledge intelligence to enhance.
Then with care and attention to stand,
In mind ready with bow in hand.
Categories: dohavali 81-120