“Knowers of the Vedas deride me as someone who simply holds a japa mala. Jnanis tell me that I am without knowledge, that I don’t know how to even perform rituals. Giving up the three paths, Tulsi humbly approaches Shri Rama’s door.” (Dohavali, 99)
karama।tha ka।thamaliyā kahaiṃ gyānī gyāna bihīna |
tulasī tripatha bihāi go rāma duāreṃ dīna ||
It’s a legitimate argument to make. It comes especially from those who are unfamiliar. Seeing a new hairstyle, clothing, and overall way of living, everything is strange. And then it’s for a specific purpose, but where is the evidence that the purpose is being met? How to gauge that there is progress? If I’m travelling to a certain destination, if my car is stuck it means that the entire endeavor is useless. At least if I have gone halfway there was something positive from the experience.
There is a certain look to the person following spiritual life descending from the Vedas. Goswami Tulsidas references the japa mala. This is a string of beads that are considered sacred. The specific substance isn’t that significant; it is more what the beads are used for. On each one a mantra is chanted, such as the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The mantra delivers the mind. It is proof of the amazing potency of spiritual sound. Repeating “water” over and over will not produce water, but with the holy name the sound is as good as the person it represents. If the spiritual seeker has nothing else, the japa mala alone will save them. This is because in any situation they can chant the holy names and be connected with God.
It is interesting to note that even those supposedly embedded within a spiritual culture may not understand the mind of the saint. They may think that a person is wasting their time. Here Tulsidas remarks on how those who are expert in the Vedas think that he is not making any progress.
The word referenced is karma, which means “fruitive activity.” The Vedas dedicate significant time to karma, which is something like advancing materially, without achieving liberation. In this sense the criticism is correct. Tulsidas has no interest in karma; he is not interested in advancing materially.
The jnanis deride the saint, as well. They say that he doesn’t have any jnana, or knowledge. Learn about the difference between matter and spirit. Quote from shastra, or scripture. Become familiar with Vedanta philosophy, which literally means “the conclusion of all conclusions.”
Tulsidas gets criticized for not being properly into meditation, either. He just says the name “Rama” over and over. Rather, he should focus on mysticism. Follow the procedures laid down in the Bhagavad-gita. Go to a remote place. Sit properly and meditate on the formless Absolute Truth.
“To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kusha-grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should neither be too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place. The yogi should then sit on it very firmly and should practice yoga by controlling the mind and the senses, purifying the heart and fixing the mind on one point.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.11-12)
Actually, the saint has no interest in any of these paths. He gladly accepts the criticisms. If I have no interest in buying cars and someone makes fun of the car that I drive, will I really mind? In one sense they are complimenting me through their harsh words.
In the same way Goswami Tulsidas is only interested in surrender to Shri Rama. He does so at the Lord’s dvara, or door, and in a poor state, dina. This doesn’t necessarily mean wanting things from the Supreme Lord. The idea is that everything is left behind. There is no interest in advancing materially. There is no desire to merge into the formless aspect of God. There is no intention to become knowledgeable to help in solidifying renunciation.
There is full surrender to the Supreme Lord, and that is sufficient. Let others say what they may. What difference does it make? Rama protects the surrendered souls. That is His promise. Material nature makes no such guarantees. A person can advance to heaven through karma, but the stay is not permanent. The jnani and the yogi look for something else once they achieve success. Meanwhile, the devotees stay peaceful and content, ready to serve their beloved, lifetime after lifetime.
“Let others say what they may,
While at Rama’s door I will stay.
In the poorest of state,
Not for salvation to await.
Nor in jnana hoping to merge,
Nor with fruitive results to converge.
Just life after life in bhakti exercising,“
Tulsi caring not others criticizing.
Categories: dohavali 81-120