“The one who never even received broken currency, who was so poor and nobody wanted – Tulsi says that Shri Rama, the protector of the poor, has made him worth so much.” (Dohavali, 108)
lahai na phū।tī kau।dihū ko cāhai kehi kāja |
so tulasī maha’go kiyo rāma garība nivāja ||
It was a long day at the office. You don’t feel like cooking anything. You shouldn’t be eating food from outside, but in this case you feel like there is no choice. You go ahead and order a pizza. While the online system for many places accepts credit cards, this restaurant is more old-fashioned. It’s cash only. The restriction is worth the bother since the food tastes so good.
You don’t even go to the place to pick up. Delivery brings its own joy. You sit there on the couch while waiting for the food to arrive. When it does, you answer the door, ask how much, and then fetch your wallet. Uh oh. Big problem. Not enough money. You’re about a dollar short.
You decide to scour the entire house. There has to be enough change lying around. Looking here and there, in shirt and pant pockets, between the cushions in the sofa, you eventually find enough to make the payment. What a relief!
Imagine being in a similar situation but not finding enough money. There is also no guarantee of getting more the next day. Goswami Tulsidas says that his situation was so bad that he couldn’t even get broken currency. He was a beggar by profession, one he accepted voluntarily.
Why would someone suddenly decide to become homeless? Was he not able to work? Was he not willing to put in the necessary effort to hold down a job and sustain a family? By accepting the renounced order of life, sannyasa, Tulsidas agreed to stay poor. This would allow him to better focus on spiritual matters.
The means of eating is begging, going door to door. Don’t accept too much, either; just enough to eat for the day. No saving up for the future. No collecting and gathering. By controlling the senses in this way, Tulsidas lived up to the title of Goswami.
In the beginning he was not very successful in begging; nor was there a lot of prestige. Since he was doing bhajana for Shri Rama, everything eventually changed. He wrote a few poems, and his popularity exploded. He became of the highest value, since what wise person isn’t interested in connecting with the Supreme Personality of Godhead?
Tulsidas reflects on this change, which the wise are known to do. It is seen that one of the qualities of the devotees is thankfulness. An outsider might ask what there is to be thankful about? Even the most popular sannyasi in the world is still a beggar. They are not supposed to have a bank balance. They are not supposed to be wealthy, making million dollar loans here and there.
Shri Rama is gariba nivaja, or the protector of the poor. The stipulation is that the poor must have a connection to Him. Otherwise what is poverty to one person is prosperity to another, since everything is relative in the material world. The poor in this case also means surrendered; they rely entirely on Shri Rama to protect them, to provide for them.
And why shouldn’t He? The animal community does not pray. They do not attend church. They do not show up at the temple with offerings. Still, they get sufficient food to eat. We wouldn’t prefer their quality of living, but it is living nonetheless. They eat, sleep, mate and defend, just like human beings do.
The saints don’t take up devotional service to earn a name, reputation, or fame. They don’t want sufficient food or money. They don’t want to be respected by the entire world. The Supreme Lord is so kind that these things happen automatically. Tulsidas follows the path of Shri Hanuman, who is the best example in this regard. Hanuman is the most famous, though he never seeks any fame. He gets everything he needs for his service to Shri Rama, provided by Rama’s wife Sita, who is the goddess of fortune. The example is there to provide comfort and relief, to give confidence to anyone wishing to surrender completely to the path of bhakti-yoga.
For pizza ordered on the phone,
To pay later, delivered to home.
But with the balance due deficient,
Searching everywhere for change sufficient.
Imagine life always like this then,
Tulsi recollecting previous time when.
But help coming from protector of the poor,
Who welfare of devotees to ensure.
Categories: dohavali 81-120