“The child of the protector of Koshala, who is the protector of the devotees, the most merciful one, Shri Rama, lives in the holy lake-like mind of Tulsi in the form of a beautiful and auspicious swan.” (Dohavali, 122)
bālaka kosalapāla ke sevakapāla k।rpāla |
tulasī mana mānasa basata mangala manju marāla ||
Politics and religion. Avoid these two topics, lest you are ready for a brawl. Strong opinions, fanatical support, illogical points of view – the general conversation soon escalates to a heated argument. Why bother? Live peacefully amongst your fellow citizens.
Nevertheless, the topics do come up. With politics, there is a sort of illusion with the leader of the nation, at least in democratic-style governments. The leader is followed like a king, like the top person in charge, who makes every important decision. The good is attributed to them, and so is the bad.
The reality is something different. The leader is elected, and he serves in one of the branches of government. There is also the legislature, which reaches a consensus amongst its perhaps hundreds of members, each with their own opinions. There are also the courts, which can strike down actions the leader and the legislature take. Not to mention the factors of state and local governments, the leader in truth has little power to do anything significant on their own, besides having their message heard by a wide audience.
In the above referenced verse from the Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas mentions a leader who actually does hold a lot of power. In ancient times the kings had counselors and deputies to carry out various work, but they were the final decision-maker. Whatever they said went. With that power came awesome responsibility, the foremost of which was to protect against foreign aggressors.
King Dasharatha was the protector of Koshala. He was so good at fighting against enemies that he could handle them coming from the ten directions simultaneously; that is how he earned his name. The king was also pious, which contributed to receiving the blessing of having the Supreme Lord appear in the family as his eldest son.
Tulsidas says that Rama is sevakapala. This means “protector of the devotees.” The child is dependent on the parents, especially in the early years. For the newborn, the experience is something like a nonstop car race, where the parents and guardians are the pit crew. Every few hours, they feed, clean, clothe and put the newborn back to sleep. This continues for several months.
Though appearing as the eldest son, Rama was actually Dasharatha’s protector. In any form the Supreme Personality of Godhead retains full potency. He can protect with both objects of peace and those of aggression. With the bow and arrow Rama protects in youth and adulthood, fighting off enemy night-rangers who attack innocent sages.
At all times the peaceful image of Shri Rama protects, as well. It is a beautiful image and also auspicious, mangala. Tulsidas compares that image to a swan. The swan stays in areas of purity. It swims on the surface of the pond and goes towards lotus flowers, whereas the crow associates with weeds and garbage.
That swan-like Rama swims in the holy lake of the poet’s mind. That is one of the reasons the great Hindi work describing Rama’s life and pastimes is titled the Ramacharitamanasa. Every person can create this same lake, provided they have the desire. The attribute-less one, the nirakara Brahman, stays in that lake in the personal form, giving protection through just His beauty.
A swan-like vision to win,
In mind’s holy lake to swim.
Rama for the poet appearing,
Of charming features endearing.
Protecting from beauty alone,
Like in king’s courtyard shown.
Any person possible the same,
For that worshipable form to claim.
Categories: dohavali 121-160