From Impure To Pure

[Rama's lotus feet]“Tulsi says that if someone respects Shri Rama, they have good value even if they are of bad character, like when the black ash from a lamp is put on the head to drive away evil spirits, it becomes fixed.” (Dohavali, 106)

tulasī rāma jo ādar yo kho।to kharo kharoi |
dīpaka kājara sira dhar yo dhar yo sudhar yo dharoi ||

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Ash is the unwanted residue from the lighting of a flame. The fire has some value when it is wanted. Without fire, man would not be able to survive. Indeed, there is a flame inside of the body, indicating life. When that fire exits, the body turns cold, which is one sign of death.

[burning fireplace]If there is a fireplace in the home, after it is used residue builds up inside. This is known as soot, and it is a byproduct of the flames. The substance is considered impure, and so it should be removed. There is a cleaning process. For every convenience there is an inconvenience. For everything useful given to us by the Almighty, there appears to be one or many things not useful accompanying it.

Goswami Tulsidas uses ash as an example to show how even the person of the worst character can be purified. We have met such people. We may have some of these bad qualities within us, as well. Lying. Cheating. Stealing. Thinking only of personal interest. Causing needless pain and harm to others. Taking great joy in another’s sorrow and becoming despondent when witnessing their success.

“One who is not envious but who is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor, who is free from false ego and equal both in happiness and distress, who is always satisfied and engaged in devotional service with determination and whose mind and intelligence are in agreement with Me-he is very dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.13-14)

In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna lists some of the reverse qualities. The purpose is to show one way that a person becomes dear to Him. He is the one most worth impressing, as His favor means everything.

Just how potent is His influence? If a person respects Him, then even when they have bad qualities they are considered to be a good person. Not that lying, cheating and stealing are worthwhile endeavors, in most cases. Not that others should be put into difficulty to satisfy personal desires. It is just that these bad qualities get cast aside. The power of the respect shown to Krishna is enough to fix such a person. Eventually those bad qualities will go away.

Tulsidas gives the comparison to kajal. This is a black-colored ointment, which in past ages was created using the ash that developed within lamps. There was the flame, the positive aspect. It served various purposes. Perhaps it was dark at night. In the home of a cultured person, on a daily basis the lamp was waved in honor of the Supreme Lord, in this case referenced through the name of Rama.

The ash was impure, but when used in kajal it served a viable purpose. If one looks at baby pictures of those growing up in Vedic culture, this kajal is often seen around the eyes and on the forehead. The mark on the forehead is to drive away evil spirits. Something impure becomes pure because of a relationship.

In the same way, even the worst person can become fixed, sudhara, through association with Shri Rama. That association can be something as basic as showing respect. This is one of the reasons deity worship is so prominent. Enter the designated dwelling, see the merciful form of the Supreme Lord, and offer a little respect. A simple process like this can do wonders.

[Rama's lotus feet]Another way to show respect is to hear and say the holy names, like from the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. From just a little respect everything can turn around. The bad becomes good, and that good goes on to do so much real benefit for others.

In Closing:

From just a little respect,

Transformation to expect.

Where ignored the qualities bad,

Since connection to Rama had.

Like kajal produced from fire’s way,

On child’s forehead driving evil away.

So with Supreme Lord a little connected,

Soon to be right, in future protected.

Categories: dohavali 81-120

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