“When I was without Rama, I used to go from door to door begging for bits and pieces of food. Now that Rama is my helper, says Tulsi, kings worship my feet.” (Dohavali, 109)
ghara ghara mā’ge ।tūka puni bhūpati pūje pāya |
je tulasī taba rāma binu te aba rāma sahāya ||
Forgetfulness is more common. It is but one aspect to the formidable force known as maya. This is the illusory energy pervading the material existence. In fact, the presence of maya, at least in its impact, is one of the determining factors between living spiritually and materially. Forgetfulness of the Almighty is the stated cause for the descent to the land of birth and death, the wheel of suffering that is reincarnation.
Who can remember what they ate for breakfast a week ago? Who remembers every good deed done in their favor? Who holds on to the memory of the great transgression that impacted others in a negative way, especially when now everyone only considers you to be a good person? Who remembers the terrible mistake made in that most important time, when everyone was counting on you?
It is especially easier to forget unwanted memories when the fortunes have turned. When there is elevation to a higher stature, why would a person want to go back and revisit the trouble, fear, and uncertainty of life in the past?
Goswami Tulsidas rose to the highest stature there can be, but he did not forget the past. In this verse from the Dohavali, the celebrated poet remembers how he used to beg from door to door. This was for bits and pieces of food and clothing. He wasn’t rich by any means. There was no government office responsible for his necessities. There was no safety net to fall back on.
Rejection was certainly a possibility. It is not that every person is kind and compassionate. Imagine the blow to one’s ego caused by constant rejection. Others are enjoying in their homes, while you have nothing. Who wouldn’t be a little envious?
The situation changed so dramatically for the poet that kings started to worship his feet. How did this happen? Was there reason to be overly proud? Was it something Tulsidas did? Did he start a profitable business? Was there a sudden revelation within the mind, providing so much wisdom to share with others?
The poet himself remembers the difference. He says that during the time of begging he was without Shri Rama. Since Rama became more a part of his life, there was protection offered. Rama is referred to here as sahaya, which means “helper.” It was through the Lord’s grace that the situation turned.
Moreover, that help wasn’t simply to remove poverty. It wasn’t for increasing fame. There are countless people helped by the Supreme Lord who are not famous. They may be known only to a few people, but they are protected all the same.
The help here was for fulfilling the desires of the poet, who wanted the glories of Shri Rama and His servants like Hanuman distributed and popularized throughout society. That wish was granted. The devotee is never left in complete poverty, since the goddess of fortune is there to provide whatever is needed. The wife of Shri Rama, Sita Devi, takes care of them.
In truth, Rama was always helping Tulsidas, but the poet is too humble to state the fact. He considers that he was forgetful of the Supreme Lord in the past, resulting in the condition of having to beg. When he was singing the glories of Rama through the amazing work known as the Ramacharitamanasa, people appreciated him so much that even kings, described here as bhupati, came to worship his feet.
Even the person in the highest position in material life has something to learn from the saint in the bhakti tradition. Money and power are not everything. Without Rama’s help, maya will take hold, and through the instrument of time everything accumulated eventually vanishes. The lone exception is the favor of the Supreme Lord, who stays with the individual from life to life.
Ever since glories of Rama to sing,
Worshiping his feet even the kings.
Not like past from door to door,
For Tulsidas to beg no more.
Still the difference recalling,
How now the Lord helper calling.
High or tall, famous or barely known,
Bhaktas Shri Rama calling His own.
Categories: dohavali 81-120